I’ve been putting off thinking about the Yankees rotation until we knew for sure what was going on with Andy Pettitte. He’s too good a pitcher and can make too big a difference to make any kind of pronouncement without knowing his status. Now that he’s apparently retiring, however, let’s ask the question: Is the Yankees’ rotation good enough to get the job done?
I’m going to give a qualified yes. It will be worse than if Pettitte was there, obviously, but a team with this rotation can compete, make the playoffs and make some noise. That is, if everything breaks right. The quick version:
- Sabathia: Arguably the best pitcher in the AL. No issues there.
- A.J. Burnett: The biggest wild card in all of baseball? If he’s 2009 A.J., things are fine. If he’s 2010 A.J., it’s panic time.
- Phil Hughes: I don’t know too many people who think that he’s not the real deal and that he won’t progress nicely. If healthy, he’s more than good enough to be a #2 or #3 starter on a championship team.
- The wild card #4: Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon or Sergio Mitre are currently in the mix. I wouldn’t bet much dough that any single one of them will have a solid, 30-start season, but I wouldn’t bet against at least one of them being solid. Does that make sense? In my mind it makes sense. It will take a lot of work, monitoring and gambling on Joe Girardi’s part, but if he reads the signs from spring training correctly, plays the hot hand and is eager to use the pen when necessary, any of the four of those guys — or more likely, some combination of them — may work out well.
- Fifth spot: The fifth spot in a rotation is almost always a crap shoot. Even one of the #4 guys who isn’t on-point can cover this competently if need be.
The optimistic spin here: the Yankees rotation is no worse today with Petitte’s retirement than it was yesterday with him not yet committed. The worry: there is no margin for error here. If Burnett has another lost season and if there is an injury to either Hughes or Sabathia, it’s time for a full-blown freakout.