New York Yankees: A Tough Decision To Be Made

By Steve Skinner

For the first four months of 2012, the New York Yankees starting rotation has been anything but stable.  First, there was the spring training injury to Michael Pineda.  The young pitcher had so much promise that the club traded highly touted prospect Jesus Montero to get him.  Then, veteran Freddy Garcia began the regular season feeding more long balls to opponents than most former high school coaches who take the mound during the All-Star game’s Home Run Derby.  Phil Hughes found his velocity, but apparently sacrificed pitch location to do so. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Hiroki Kuroda were less than stellar.

Two weeks prior to the start of the season, as if sensing impending doom, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced the signing of Andy Pettitte.  The beloved Yankee southpaw hadn’t pitched since 2010, but had kept himself in shape and still retained the desire to compete.  Immediately he began minor league assignments with hopes of pitching for the big league club in May.

As April turned into May, it appeared that things were finally settling down for the New York Yankees starters.  Garcia was replaced in the rotation with David Phelps.  He, in spite of taking the loss in a 4-3 decision to the Kansas City Royals, pitched decently in going 4 innings while yielding 6 hits and no walks.  Hughes has pitched well in his last two starts, including today’s 10-3 victory in which he went 6 2/3 innings and gave up 3 runs while striking out 7.  Sabathia has been brilliant over his two most recent outings, throwing 16 innings and giving up just 4 runs in two victories, showing why he is the team’s ace.

It would seem that stability was taking shape – until now.

Even as the Yankees were putting the finishing touches on Hughes’ best start to date, Andy Pettitte was announcing to reporters in Rochester, NY – where he had just completed his minor league game with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees – that he felt ready to join the major league club.

A decision will need to be made by New York Yankees management as to who will be relegated to the bullpen upon Pettitte’s return.  The two most likely candidates – Phelps and Hughes – have just come off fairly impressive starts.

Both pitchers have experience working from the New York Yankees bullpen.  Phelps actually opened this season as a long reliever.  Hughes has received much criticism to date but, as mentioned, he has shown glimpses of the 18-game winner from 2010.  Regardless of who Cashman and manager Joe Girardi decide to remove from the rotation, it is a decision that I do not envy.  It is also a decision that should shore up both the starting corps (expecting stability of the veteran Pettitte) and the bullpen (adding valuable depth).

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