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Hunter Gaddis has a bad day at the office

The Hunter became the hunted, if you will

New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

One of the two starting pitchers got into a rhythm tonight, and it sure wasn’t Hunter Gaddis.

While Yankees starter Gerrit Cole was a little shaky in the first inning, giving up three hits to lead off the game before Josh Naylor hit a sacrifice fly to give the Guards an early 2-0 lead, it didn’t take long before he shut that whole operation down. From the second inning on he was virtually unhittable, only giving up two hits and a couple of walks over his final six frames.

Not to say that the Guardians offense gave up, but I think they might have seen the writing on the wall in this one once Gaddis imploded like a dying star and gave up five runs in the third inning. According to Andre Knott, there was chatter from the dugout in the bottom of the third about putting together good at-bats and not giving up. But no matter how much grit and determination your team has, it’s hard to win when you give up double-digit unanswered runs. Sometimes you just have to save your energy and try again tomorrow. Like when you lose, 11-2, for example.

This was undoubtedly Gaddis’s worst start of 2023 and it looked eerily reminiscent of his disastrous outings last season. The release point issues that he seemed to be correcting over his first two starts of the season were back with a vengeance, and the Yankees were all over him. He gave up on his offspeed and breaking stuff early, instead relying on four-seamers and cutters for 53 of his 67 pitches. He only threw one curveball and 13 changeups — and the ones he threw weren’t good. Bad changeups were what caused the third-inning collapse (one that hit Anthony Rizzo, and another that was hammered by Franchy Cordero), and the four-seamer he tried to lean on didn’t start with great velocity and almost immediately plummeted even further.

The potential is still there for Gaddis, but he has already had one too many games like this where everything goes wrong. His command and feel issues seemingly make it impossible to string together good starts, which he’d have to figure out eventually if he’s going to stick in the rotation. Every time he has a game like this, that dream drifts further away.

In reality, if there was ever a sign that Gaddis’s future is in the bullpen, this game was probably it. Let him go out there and throw full force for an inning or two and leave before he gets timed up, I guess. If he comes out of the ‘pen and clearly doesn’t have it, you can pull him after three batters with minimum damage. It’s difficult to make too many solid declarations about his future with how little he used his best pitches tonight, but you can’t have a starting pitcher going out and completely losing his feel for everything in two-thirds of his starts.

On the plus side, Josh Bell got a double in the ninth inning — his first extra-base hit of the season. So there’s that.

Terry Francona tried out this Andrés Giménez guy in the two-hole in the lineup and it was a rousing success, I’d say. Entering tonight’s game, all Guardians No. 2 batters combined were 10-for-49 with 13 strikeouts, a .225 wOBA, and were named Amed Rosario. Giménez added two hits himself in four at-bats tonight.

Xzavion Curry also proved that he can be a valuable innings eater/garbage clean-up man for the second time this season. It may not be a glamorous role, but having a guy who can come in on a whim and give you four innings without completely collapsing is a valuable thing that every team needs. He allowed three runs in his four innings of work, but the game was over at that point anyway. The important thing is that he threw 67 pitches and saved the rest of the arms for tomorrow’s matinee finale.

Get some sleep and try again tomorrow.