Over at SI.com, I follow up my look at the five biggest offensive holes on contending teams with a look at the five contenders most in need of pitching help. When I started writing the piece, I had no idea that number five would be the New York Yankees. As a fan, I’m optimistic, encouraged by the team’s 9-1 start to the second half, Joba Chamberlain’s “rejobanation,” Andy Pettitte’s two strong home starts, CC Sabathia’s ability to battle, even A.J. Burnett’s string of quality starts and Sergio Mitre’s ability to keep his team in the game. As an analyst, however, I see this:
Joba Chamberlain is quickly approaching his innings limit for the season (assumed to be 150, he’s already over 100 and has been pitching deeper into games since the break). If the fragile A.J. Burnett or the 37-year-old Pettitte (currently sporting a career-worst 4.67 ERA) should break down, the Yankee rotation could fold like a cheap card table under the weight of CC Sabathia. Hughes lurks in the bullpen, but he’s been so good there (he has an active streak of 23 1/3 scoreless innings in which he’s struck out 28 batters), the Yankees seem reluctant to restore him to the rotation, particularly given the chance that they won’t get much more than the production listed above. For now, their fifth starter is Sergio Mitre, another Tommy John reclamation case who hadn’t started in the majors since 2007 (and in his case didn’t start much in the majors before 2007 either). Prospect Ian Kennedy is out for the year following surgery. Alfredo Aceves is an uninspiring alternative. Like the Angels, the Yankees are riding high (9-1 since the break), but their rotation may not make it all the way to the finish line as currently assembled.
Meanwhile, the top story on SI.com’s baseball page has John Heyman speculating about the Yankees chasing after Jarrod Washburn yet again. The only trouble with all of this is, what exactly would you be willing to give up to get another starter? I could have parted with Melky before Brett Gardner got hurt, but that’s out the window now. I wouldn’t trade any of the team’s top young’uns (Hughes, Chamberlain, Jackson, Montero, though I’d be most willing to part with Jackson). What else do the Yankees have to offer? Low-minors catchers? A struggling Andrew Brackman? The deadline is Friday. Stay tuned . . .