Yankees’ biggest preseason concern rearing its ugly head

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Michael Pineda stood on the Tropicana Field mound Wednesday night, hands on hips, frowning like George Jefferson after Florence zinged him with yet another short joke.

If only the Yankees could find the humor in the shortness of their starting pitchers’ outings.

The Yankees lost the rubber game of their first series, 4-1 to the Rays, and within the crucial context of your tiny sample-size disclaimer, you can choose your poison on this 1-2 club.

You can worry about the Baby Bombers Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, who teamed for a collective .105/.150/.158 slash line, or you can fret about the 11 ¹/₃ innings totaled by starting pitchers Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia.

I’d go with the starting rotation. Because it stood as the primary concern going into this campaign. Because the brevity of its workload carried the consequences of more innings for the so-far perfect bullpen. And because each of Bird, Judge and Sanchez displayed flashes, however slight, of what got them here.

“That’s got to change,” manager Joe Girardi said of his starting arms’ sum effort, which produced an 8.74 ERA. “You knew early on that you weren’t going to get a ton out of them, but you can’t live like that the whole year. You hope that they can get extended more as time goes on, but we do need some more innings. The bullpen did a really good job.”


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