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MLB Analysis: Impact of Michael Pineda's Absence on Yankees

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By Joe Munley

When the Yankees pulled off the deal to acquire Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners for Jesus Montero, it was a deal that was lauded around the league because it bolstered the Yanks’ rotation with a young gun in return for a young hitter that – while powerful – was destined to be a DH.

As a Yankees fan, I was excited about the the deal then, and I still am… For the long run. Pineda is a hurler in his early twenties & the Yanks have him wrapped up for the next five years. The problem is the here and now as Michael Pineda has a torn labrum, will require surgery on his shoulder, and will be shut down for the entire 2012 season according to reports.

This starting rotation that carried some pretty high expectations coming into the season is looking pretty suspect to say the least. Outside of CC Sabathia & Ivan Nova, the rest of the rotation has been “turrble”. Freddy Garcia (0-1, 9.75), Phil Hughes (1-3, 7.88), and Hiroki Kuroda (1-3, 4.38) aren’t exactly putting any kind of fear into opposing hitters. It’s possible to skate by for a while with sub-par starting pitching when you’ve got a lineup like New York’s, but it is impossible to put together a complete, playoff quality season when 3 of your 5 starting pitchers aren’t getting the job done. So, where is the help going to come from?

Aside from David Phelps, a young gun that I think should be given a chance to spot start if just to see what he can actually do, the Yanks are depending on a guy that they’ve counted on numerous times in the past.

Andy Pettitte is making his way up through the Yankees minor league system as he prepares to return to NY in a much more important role than he envisioned when he signed his minor league contract this spring. The ‘good’ is that he is pitching extremely well. The ‘bad’ is that he isn’t facing hitters anywhere near the caliber that he’ll face for the rest of the season in the AL East.

It’s encouraging to read reports of his quality starts in Double-A Trenton, and it’s comforting to know that this is a guy that has pitched in more big games – and won them – than any pitcher currently in the league. But it is more than disconcerting that the fate of a pitching staff is now tied to a 40-year old guy that is probably only pitching right now because he got nostalgic for the good ol’ days while visiting the Yanks during Spring Training.

The Yanks offense will pile up enough runs to keep them at or near the top of the AL East for the time being, but if they intend to go very far in October (and November these days) it appears that they’ll be counting on Pettitte to channel some of the mojo from those good ol’ days & deliver in the clutch yet again.

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