When the Yankees dealt for the young Michael Pineda from the Mariners this off season, it sent shock waves through the rest of Major League Baseball. A relatively quiet winter for the high spending Evil Empire changed in one day and with the acquisition so did their starting rotation with newly set high expectations. Now Pineda will miss the rest of the season with arthroscopic shoulder surgery and with it the expectations of a solid rotation now shifts to the arm of a 39-year old Andy Pettitte.
In typical Yankee fashion, they made headlines announcing that Pettitte will be attempting a comeback and the way things have gone so far, they need the Pettitte of old.
Despite missing all of the 2011 due to retirement, the Yankees are confident the former big game pitcher will slide right into the rotation and pick up the gap left by Pineda. Aside from Ivan Nova, no other Yankees pitcher has an ERA under 4.00 with Hiroki Kuroda sitting at 4.38. Not terrible but given his inability to put consistent outings together has to leave Yankees fans wondering about their free-agent signing.
Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes look like John Lackey on the mound making the need for Pettitte an urgent request. CC Sabathia hasn’t been that bad, but his performance brings up the question if this is the year that his arm starts to feel the effects of an over average workload in the past.
There is always the possibility that the Yankees go out and deal for another starter, someone like Jake Peavy of the White Sox or Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros. Roy Oswalt still lingers and gobs of money thrown at him could serve as a band-aid to cover the geographic barrier wound.
In the meantime the Yankees are left waiting for an almost 40-year old arm to come in and shore up the 5-man rotation. The offense will carry this team to many wins on nights when their pitching stumbles. If Sabathia and Kuroda can regain their dominant form, saddled with the young Nova, Pettitte may not feel the pressure to perform to the level that earned him the reputation of a big game pitcher. If they can’t, the Yankees pitching and success may rest on Andy Pettitte.