New York Yankees

Eduardo Nunez: Starting SS over Jayson Nix in Game 3 Is Wise Move by Joe Girardi

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 08:  Eduardo Nunez #26 of the New York Yankees hits a double in the seventh inning during Game Two of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on October 8, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

Eduardo Nunez will play shortstop for the New York Yankees Tuesday night in Game 3 of the ALCS, following a hit-less night from Jayson Nix in Game 2.

Neither player can be expected to replace Derek Jeter in the clubhouse, in the field or at the plate, but a little production would be nice. Justin Verlander is tough enough to hit as it is, pulling an unproductive bat around makes winning even more difficult.

It's not that Nix is the only problem in the Yankees' lineup right now, but it was time for a change. Inserting Nunez into the starting lineup gives New York a different look, and keeps Nix's 1-for-11 career numbers against Verlander on the bench.

Nunez has started 17 games at shortstop this season. In 38 total games, he hit .292 with one home run and 11 RBI. He also stole 11 bases.

In the divisional round, he went 1-for-5 and scored two runs against the Baltimore Orioles. He was initially left off the ALCS roster in favor of carrying more pitchers, but he was added following Jeter's injury.

The Yankees' lineup has struggled so far in the ALCS, continuing its struggles from the ALDS. That prompted Joe Girardi to not only bench Nix, but to sit Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher as well.

There's something to be said for continuity, and Nix is a consistent fielder, but Tuesday night is a must-win game. When you're facing a legitimate ace like Verlander, you can't afford to have any weak moments.

New York will have to hit if they want to win on Tuesday. If they can't hit for power, manufacturing runs will be in order. Nunez's speed could give the Yankees an added element on the basepaths, especially with Brett Gardner batting after him in the leadoff spot.

Nunez is 1-for-3 with a double against Verlander for his career. He doesn't bring a lot of experience to the table, but that could be a good thing. After being demoralized by Verlander's dominant stuff over and over again, that can play against your psyche.

Don't expect a power surge from the nine-hole with Nunez slotted in, but Girardi made the right move. Nix's defense could be useful late in the game, and a change was needed.

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