Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bad break for Pettitte means trouble for Yankees

Has a first-place team ever experienced such bad luck?

Out of an abundance of caution, the New York Yankees put ace lefthander CC Sabathia on the disabled list due to a groin injury. Out of necessity, the Yankees announced his #2 Andy Pettitte would join him on the disabled list just hours later. So the team with the best record in baseball suddenly looks like it could be in a lot of trouble.

I wasn’t terribly concerned about Sabathia’s injury, which appears to be relatively minor. Heading into the All-Star break, I thought it was absolutely the right move to be cautious and not let Sabathia risk worsening the injury by trying to pitch through it. But the Yankees had to be exasperated by the misfortune of Pettitte getting hit with a comebacker that broke his fibula, forcing him off the mound for at least the next six weeks.

I feel really bad for Pettitte. Despite my personal feelings over his actions during the Roger Clemens trial, Pettitte had stepped up to help right what had been a struggling Yankees rotation both by pitching extremely well and serving as counsel and mentor to guys like Phil Hughes. I admire Pettitte’s bulldog mentality in trying to stay in yesterday’s game, but I cringed after he threw that first pitch after getting hit with that comebacker because it was obvious that he was in an extreme amount of pain. The silver lining of this injury, as Brian Cashman noted, is that the 40-year-old Pettitte will be really fresh when the Yankees truly need him in September and October.

So for the time being, the Yankees rotation will comprise of Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Hughes, with some help from Freddy Garcia and a couple of Yankee minor leaguers. Kuroda, Nova and Hughes have all pitched well of late, but I do worry that they might put too much pressure on themselves to try to make up for not having Sabathia or Pettitte. As for Garcia, this is a great opportunity for him to show that he still has something left in the tank and should not be relegated to mop-up duty.

It’s going to be a challenge, but I think the Yankees can survive the next two weeks without their star lefties. But it’s going to take a lot of luck, something that doesn’t seem to be on the Yankees side right now. 

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