Green, Mullee aim to build on uneven debuts

May 17th, 2016

PHOENIX -- On the December afternoon that the Yankees consummated a deal with the Tigers, acquiring starters Luis Cessa and Chad Green for lefty reliever Justin Wilson, general manager Brian Cashman rested on the desk of a Nashville hotel suite and predicted that the depth would be required in the near future.

The jury is still out on that deal, which had some executives scratching their heads in the lobby, but Cashman's read on the team's future needs was prescient. Green made his Major League debut on Monday, pitching into the fifth inning before taking the loss in a 12-2 D-backs victory.

"It was an awesome experience, but I felt like I got some balls up in the zone and they did some damage with it," Green said. "Overall I made a couple of mistakes that I'm not happy with, but it was OK."

Given the last few seasons, stockpiling arms may prove to have been wise. When Conor Mullee also debuted on Monday, allowing a sixth-inning run, it was the second time in less than a year that a pair of Bombers hurlers debuted in the same game (also Danny Burawa and Jose DePaula, last June 21).

After Cessa made the Opening Day roster and was later sent back to Triple-A, the 24-year-old Green was plugged into the rotation as something of a calculated gamble, with the Yankees aiming to offer an extra day of rest to Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi.

While his 16.88 ERA this spring was the highest on the club, Green had compiled a 1.22 ERA and a team-high 36 strikeouts in seven starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"I think his breaking ball has gotten better," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "In Spring Training, he had a hard time throwing strikes; he didn't have a hard time really tonight."

Green struck out the first batter he faced, Jean Segura, and retired Michael Bourn on a flyout. Paul Goldschmidt teed off on a first-pitch fastball for his eighth homer and the next two batters followed with hits, but Green escaped as Didi Gregorius and Mark Teixeira bailed him out with a nifty play at both ends on a Brandon Drury grounder.

"I was just trying to calm myself down a little bit, try not to get too amped up, try not to overthrow pitches," Green said. "I think I did overthrow a few of them but from the first inning I was just trying to get ahead with the fastball."

Arizona added a run in the second on Segura's RBI double, after which point catcher Austin Romine said that Green seemed to settle in. With Green having not batted since high school, Arizona intentionally walked Romine to load the bases in the fourth, and Green was fanned. Girardi said that with a short bullpen, he wasn't tempted to hit for his pitcher.

"It's just really hard. If you had a day off coming soon, [maybe], but it was just too early," Girardi said.

The Yanks tied the game in the fifth as Jacoby Ellsbury circled the bases on a triple and an error. Green's undoing started in the home half, as Teixeira dropped a routine throw from the pitcher on Bourn's infield tapper.

A four-pitch walk to Goldschmidt preceded a three-run Jake Lamb homer, and after serving up a double to Yasmany Tomas, Green's debut was over.

"He left a couple balls up," Girardi said. "After the first two innings, he settled down for the next two innings and then he just got into a long count and Lamb hit a home run. He did OK. We know that there's more there. He's continuing to develop his secondary stuff."

Mullee's debut was less eventful, though the 28-year-old needed 31 pitches to navigate a frame that saw him permit no hits, but issue three walks -- including one with the bases loaded to Chris Herrmann -- and hit a batter.

"I think tonight is one of those nights where you try and take the positives, whatever positives you can find out of an outing like that and build off that," Mullee said. "You play this game all your life trying to get to that moment. I was really excited. I just wish I had executed a little better."