Five man. Six man. Five man. Six man. Cut AJ! Send Hughes to the pen! The pitching staff has been under the microscope all season and now it has become the sole controversy surrounding the team. Well, other than the poor play on the field. After an impressive start to the month sweeping the Blue Jays and taking the first two from Baltimore the Yankees are now on a four game skid. The playoffs are all but certain for the Bombers, especially with the equally poor play of the Red Sox, but there are some troubling signs on the field.
The real number the Yanks have to focus on is three. Who are our top three starters going into October? CC is a lock for number one. He has had an exceptional
year and continues to be the ace and work horse of the staff. Burnett, the number two starter in the championship season of ’09, is out. There is no way any organization can put him on the hill after the season he has put together, although stranger things have happened with pitchers like Kevin Brown getting starts in the post season during the Joe Torre years. Phil Hughes emerged as a front-line starting pitcher last season, but stumbled down the stretch. He carried that streak into this season, but after sometime on the DL has returned with improved velocity and improved results. However, it is feast of famine. Hughes never works through a tough outing emerging battle-tested. I don’t see the in-game adjustments necessary for depth, which the Yankees desperately need. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have given the Yanks more than anyone, Cashman included, could have ever hoped for, but now look like they are in desperate need of some “stem-cell treatments.” Ivan Nova has pitched his way into the top of the rotation and, despite being a rookie, will probably pitch game three.
Recently the lack of depth from all starters has begun to take a toll on our shut-down bullpen. Now Girardi has the difficult task of balancing rest for the guys we expect to pitch in October and still win ballgames with September call-ups pitching in meaningful games. Scott Proctor returned to the Bronx and many fans are surprised he still has an arm after all the innings he threw for Torre between 2003 and 2007. Proctor is excited to be back in pinstripes especially because he will be there to witness Mariano Rivera reach 600 career saves and 602, placing him first all time. The quest for the milestone infuses some excitement in an otherwise stagnant playoff race.
Now here is the solution to these problems.
1. Stick with the 6 man rotation. Anyone who can come in eat a few innings and give rest to our bullpen is helping the team. Yes even AJ.
2. CC, Colon, Nova, Garcia. These are our top four starters. With guys like Hughes and Noesi in the pen we have extra insurance for an early exit.
3. Jesus Walks. (And hits home runs) Sorry Jorge, but the future has arrived. The yanks finally found their starting DH.
4. Relax. Loosing to Baltimore is frustrating and the west coast is always tough especially playing an Angels team that is looking to overtake the Rangers for the AL west division title. We are guaranteed the postseason and have a great shot at the Fall Classic. The Bombers are better than they have played lately, so as always, we’ll see you in October.
-Erik (But really did you think Phil would have written this? The guy won’t even type Y A N K E E S in that order.)