It seems like only yesterday when baseball prognosticators everywhere were wondering what the Yankees would do with all their starters. The team didn’t have room for all those arms! The Yankees had too much pitching, literally, for four games. That’s about how many starts it took for everyone to realize that Freddy Garcia didn’t have it. I didn’t forecast this. I thought the Yankees would have a surplus of starters at least for a few games, but now everyone knows why you can never have too much pitching.
Now, the question is whether or not the Yankees have enough pitching? That remains to be seen. The good news is that the team has enough warm bodies to throw into the rotation to fill out the fourth and fifth starters’ roles. The bad news is that those bodies are untested. David Phelps has looked good in the long relief role, but there is a difference between long relieving and starting. Alfredo Aceves always did a good job holding down the fort when a starter imploded but he also struggled in his own starts. Phelps has earned his shot at the job, but no one knows how he will fare.
Phil Hughes, meanwhile, is also on the hot seat. My hunch is that the Yankees will give him one more start. If he does well, great. If not, it wouldn’t be surprising to see D.J. Mitchell audition for a spot start while the team waits for Andy Pettitte to return. Pettitte himself is untested. Sure, once upon a time All-Day Andy Pettitte was just that, good to go all day. Unfortunately he hasn’t pitched in more than a year. While only fools bet against Pettitte, the Yankees don’t actually know what he has left. There is no guarantee he can be effective.
Ironically, all this demonstrates why the Yankees pulled the trigger on the Michael Pineda deal when they had the chance. Teams always need pitching. The Yankees saw an opportunity to shore up a spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future and they took it. While Pineda’s injury is tremendously disappointing, it isn’t catastrophic, yet. Pineda has a chance to come back from the injury, just not the season. It looks as though the Yankees have ample in house options to fill the holes that are left in the rotation, but the start to the 2012 season has been a rude reminder that it is true: You can never have too much pitching.