11:23 am Jun. 28, 2012
Even before Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia got hurt, the Yankees had lost the equivalent of an entire starting pitching staff. Yet they still boast one of the best E.R.A.s in the league.
Wednesday's news was that CC Sabathia hurt his oblique, and is expected to miss a pair of starts, while Andy Pettitte fractured his ankle, an injury likely to keep him out for two months. And still, the Yankees might just be deep enough to get through their absence in decent shape.
In the immediate term, the two new replacements will be Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia. In Warren, the Yankees have a guy whose reasonably strong strikeout rate and solid control would have landed him at the back of another team's rotation a while ago. Garcia, meanwhile, represents Yankee excess at its best: Very few teams have a long reliever who pitched to a 120 E.R.A.+ as a starter in the American League East in 2011, let alone one signed to a $4 million contract as an insurance policy.
If either of these two falter, the Yankees can turn back to David Phelps, who they sent down to the minors after Pettitte took his spot in the rotation, intent upon having another starting pitcher ready in case of injury. In this case, the injuries came about a start too soon--Phelps is up to around 70 pitches, putting him a minor-league start or two away from coming back to New York. If you forgot, all Phelps did with the Yankees was post a sparkling 2.94 E.R.A. over 13 appearances, including three starts.
So until Pettitte and Sabathia return, the Yankees still have six reliable starting pitchers--Warren, Phelps, Garcia, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova--for five spots. They even have the veteran journeyman Ramon Ortiz at Triple-A, too, pitching well, and D.J. Mitchell, an Adam Warren type whose results have been disappointing so far.
What makes that even more remarkable is that the Yankees could, at the moment, fill another rotation with injured starters. Sabathia, Pettitte, Michael Pineda provide the hypothetical injured rotation with major league experience, while Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the former on the disabled list, the latter pitching with greatly reduced velocity that certainly appears to be the result of a physical ailment, give the injured Yankee rotation youth and upside.
When general manager Brian Cashman is evaluated by history, this team's ability to weather a pitching-injury storm may go down as one of his most impressive accomplishment. He's had a ton of money placed at his disposal, sure, but he appears to have spent it well.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Mets ended their series in Chicago with a bang, beating the Cubs, 17-1 Wednesday to salvage a game in the three-game set. As impressive as the offense was--two home runs from Daniel Murphy, a grand slam from Scott Hairston, a three-run shot from Ike Davis, five R.B.I. from David Wright--the most impressive performance of all had to be Jon Niese's seven innings of one-run pitching, given that the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field.
The N.B.A. Draft is Thursday night, and if nothing changes, the Knicks can still get a useful player at the 48th overall pick. They might trade up, however, or find a way to add a second pick (teams often sell picks when they don't have the roster space to add another player), so watch for that as well.
Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony is officially a wax figure, which is probably capable of playing defense as well as Anthony did under Mike D'Antoni.