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Yankees Stretch Run: The Young Guns

56 to go and 34 on the road – tough for any team in the Major League’s to close strong and win their division. Not only that; missing the game’s most prolific player and heading into this stretch with one lefty in the bullpen will take your breath away. How are we going to handle Boston when we have them 9 more times!?  This has put us into a position where we have to trust and depend on our youth to pull this together. And you know what; here are some exciting things and personnel that we will see develop or fail on the big stage that will make this run one of our most exciting pennant drives since 1996:
1) Manny Banuelos – his strike/ball ratio may alarm and cause Joey G. sleepless nights but the  Yankees have not won a pennant in the last 50 years without two lefty starters on the hill. Man; if you think we missed Andy this year, this will certainly have you on the edge of your seat every time he comes out on the mound. Will he make an impact? Will he earn his stripes in key lefty situations versus Boston and Toronto; or will he be the second meat patty to go along with Boonie? We’re going to have to get lefty’s out with consistency against both these teams. The series with Boston to close out the year may be the difference between winning this division or (gulp) the reason why the Yankees choke and drop out of the wild card spot all together.
Nova Back to the Bigs
2) Ivan Nova – all I can say is YEA BABY! I was starting to wonder if the guys in the Big House were trying to convince themselves that Hughes was doing well and the kid was alright. The truth is we can’t win this without the consistency and winning approach that CC and young Ivan bring tothis team. This guy is our #2 -and I am looking forward to him not only proving this; but winning with consistency that will show the Yankee brass he has to take the hill in game #2 of the playoffs; especially on the road, if we get there.
Eduardo Nunez Contributes off Bench

3) Eduardo Nunez – some have mixed emotions – I don’t! The team is 9-4 in games that he has started at SS and he continues to improve his fielding; hits with consistency and provides speed and savvy on the base paths. Take a look at his RBI’s, runs scored and hits. He needs to improve on working the pitcher and rarely walks; but, he has provided a spark and been involved in many key wins when Jetes went down and ARod left the building. He has not committed an error that cost them anything and his style and motion at SS emulates one of the greatest of all time – DJ. Derek has said the same; “Nunez can be the heir apparent and I am very confident in his ability to hit in the clutch and contribute with his speed and agility.” I believe this guy has all upside and will be important to us when Jetes and ARod need to take a blow. When he is in the lineup the Yankees have the most speed they have had turning the order in the last 30 years – Nunez/Gardy/Jetes/Grandy. He contributes to Curtis’s goal of 160 runs in 2011. He can do it. Believe.

Mike Antoniotti
NYYUniverse.com Staff Writer