Barring some sort of horrible disaster involving a nuclear reactor and a high-five courtesy of Shelley Duncan, the Yanks will be clinching their playoff spot any time now (hopefully tonight with the Wangster on the mound…), so I think it is fair to start thinking about the playoffs and who we’re going to trust to pitch the team to success – or at least not into utter failure.
Wang and Pettitte are as close to “sure things” as the Yanks can get, and there is no doubt that the two of them will be at the top of the rotation. Since the post-season is – obviously – very different from the regular season, the Yanks won’t have to worry quite so much about creating a 5-man rotation (something that eluded the Yanks ALL SEASON) and giving everyone lots of rest, which will allow Torre to use the Wangster and/or Prince Pettitte for two starts. As for our other starters, things are a bit less secure. Moose has done well lately, but in the minds of us cerebral fans and certainly of Torre and the Cash Man he is still walking on shaky ground and his start(s?) could go either way. Rocket was shut down this week to give him some extra time to rehab his sore hamstring/elbow/head/belly/wallet, and Torre has said that he’ll be a-ok for the playoffs and will likely pitch game 3 of the ALDS, but the fact that his starts kept getting pushed back until he was finally just shut down completely makes me a smidge nervous (how can we be sure he won’t still be sore next week?). Hughsie will make an appearance, and we love the dear boy, but a post-season game is a heckuva (job, Brownie!) lot of pressure for a kid with hardly any experience. The same goes for Ian Kennedy, who, if you ask me (you didn’t, but too bad), seems to have handled the pressure even better than Hughes has. Kennedy actually won’t be available for the first round of the playoffs because of his back pain (oh yeah, and he’s getting married [and on that note, why the hell is he getting married so young? He makes me feel like an old spinster]), but he will be ready for action in the ALCS. Assuming we make it there this year.
The pitching has really been the Yanks’ Achilles heel this year, and even though the situation has improved vastly over the past couple months the threat of a catastrophe on that front remains. Using the available pitching resources very, very carefully is going to determine the fate of the team. What do you think? Who do you trust?