Asher Wojciechowski struggles but keeps things close in Yankees debut
The Yankees will use their top four healthy starting pitchers in the huge four-game series against the Red Sox that begins on Thursday at Fenway Park. In order of appearance, that’s Jordan Montgomery, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Domingo German.
Manager Aaron Boone needed a starter for Wednesday’s homestand finale against the Phillies. So the Yankees dipped down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for 32-year-old righthander Asher Wojciechowski, who had a career record of 9-15 with a 5.95 ERA in 57 games (34 starts) in parts of four seasons for the Astros, Reds and Orioles.
Wojciechowski is 0-1, 5.68 in four games (three starts) for Scranton, but he has major league experience and pitched well -- if briefly -- in his most recent Triple-A outing (four innings, one run, seven strikeouts).
So up he came. And out went his first pitch as a Yankee as Jean Segura hit a leadoff home run to left.
Wojciechowski recovered nicely, striking out the side around a two-out double by Andrew McCutchen.
Bryce Harper gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead with an RBI double in the third. In fact, seven of the first 13 batters reached base against Wojciechowski, but he wiggled out of greater trouble and held the Phillies to two runs over four innings.
The Yankees will have their regular rotation this weekend in Boston and hope to have Nestor Cortes Jr. back early next week from the COVID-19 injured list for a three-game series at Tampa Bay.
The next seven games may decide whether the Yankees are buyers, sellers or neither at the July 30 trade deadline.
"It’s no secret who our biggest rivals are and where we're at in the standings," Brett Gardner said. "We have a very, very important week of baseball coming up this next road trip. We’re looking forward to that matchup this weekend. It's always a fun place to play."
The Yankees, like every contending club, would love to add starting pitching via trade. But they might have to settle for adding a two-time Cy Young award winner who threw a no-hitter earlier this season, and their former staff ace.
Corey Kluber, out since May 26 with a right shoulder strain, is scheduled on Friday to throw his first bullpen session since going on the shelf one start after he no-hit the Rangers.
Throwing off a mound is a significant step for Kluber, who is 4-3, 3.04 overall in 10 starts. Kluber chose rehab over a more aggressive treatment in the hopes he could return down the stretch. Now, he is going to put that – and his shoulder – to the test.
Luis Severino is also itching for his chance to start a game this season after he suffered a groin injury during a June rehab start. Severino, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw live batting practice on Sunday at Yankee Stadium and may be cleared for his second minor-league rehab stint by next week.
Things would be easier for the Yankees if Deivi Garcia had continued the progress he made in six starts at the end of last season.
But Garcia has struggled so much in brief stints in the majors this season (0-2, 6.48 ERA in two starts) and at Scranton (2-3, 6.89 ERA in 13 appearances) that the 22-year-old was passed over for Wojciechowski for Wednesday’s start.
Garcia allowed three runs in six innings and struck out nine for Scranton on Tuesday. The Yankees could have simply held him back a day if they wanted him to face the Phillies on Wednesday. They did not.
"He's certainly one of those guys in that mix of guys we considered," Boone said. "Definitely to see what's been a tough year, a tough start to the year for him, him trending in the right direction and throwing the ball a lot better. I know he threw better (Tuesday). I haven't watched it yet, but that is encouraging to see the uptick we're seeing over the last few starts from him."