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After hot start, Whitley comes back to earth

NEW YORK -- Less than two weeks ago, Chase Whitley sported an ERA of 2.56.

It has now ballooned to 4.70.

Chase Whitley

Chase Whitley

#39 SP
New York Yankees

2014 STATS

  • GM9
  • W3

  • L2

  • BB9

  • K29

  • ERA4.70

The pleasant surprise suddenly looks very shaky, after failing to get out of the fifth inning in the New York Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

"He just made some mistakes, it looked like, in the middle of the plate," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Whitley was in trouble from the get-go on Sunday. He gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia in the first inning but was bailed out by a David Ortiz ground-ball double play.

Mike Napoli led off the second inning with a double, and scored on a Stephen Drew single, before Whitley got another double play to end that frame.

The big blow came in the third inning -- with runners on first and third and two outs, Ortiz blasted a 91-mph fastball deep into the right-field bleachers. Whitley held the Red Sox scoreless in the fourth, but after walking Boston's No. 9 hitter, Jackie Bradley Jr., to start the fifth, Girardi yanked him.

"I'm frustrated mostly with the pitch to Ortiz obviously, and then the walk to Bradley to set up the fifth was unacceptable," Whitley said.

Six days ago, Whitley lasted just 3 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. After going 3-0 and giving up just 11 earned runs in his first seven starts spanning 38 2/3 innings, he has given up 13 earned runs in just 7 1/3 innings in back-to-back losses.

"I think he had better stuff tonight [than he did in Toronto]," Girardi said. "Just he made some mistakes in the middle, and they didn’t miss 'em."

"I felt OK," Whitley said. "They hit some mistakes, and they hit some decent pitches that I threw. I gotta keep working and get better."

There's little margin for error for a pitcher like Whitley, whose fastball tops out in the low 90s.

This may be a reality check. After all, Whitley was a relatively unheralded prospect, drafted in the 15th round back in 2010.

We'll find out more on July 4 in Minnesota, because the Yankees will keep sending the 25-year-old out there -- at least until CC Sabathia returns from the disabled list.

They really have no choice.