One day in January, GM Brian Cashman changed the complexion of his team and sparked excitement among New York Yankees fans by trading for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda. The results of the moves have fallen somewhere between mixed and disastrous, yet the Yankees find themselves in first place in the AL East anyway. For now.
It might be time for Cashman to roll the dice again, considering New York suffered two significant injuries Wednesday. The Yankees lost ace left-hander CC Sabathia for at least two starts because of a groin injury and resurgent lefty Andy Pettitte is out for six weeks because of a broken left ankle, sustained when a line drive hit him during Pettitte's start against the Indians. Pettitte actually stayed in the game and threw a pitch after being hit, but came out afterward.
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Cashman has told reporters he doesn't want to go outside of the organization for help (not with the sharks circling, looking to feed on lopsided trades of desperation), so for now Freddy Garcia and rookie Adam Warren will take the open spots in the rotation.
Garcia, with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, picked up the win in relief of Pettitte, who was knocked out in the fifth inning when Casey Kotchman hit him with a leadoff line drive back to the mound. Though "Sweaty" Freddy's numbers are bloated overall, he's been better lately and gives Cashman reason to be optimistic.
Warren is a 23-year-old right-hander who has a 3.05 ERA and 346 strikeouts in 430 career minor-league innings. He had a 3.86 ERA in 15 starts at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees can get by if Warren needs to make only two starts in Sabathia's place. Warren makes his debut Friday against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. Garcia will get the start Monday.
Pettitte will be a big loss. He had been striking out about one per inning in nine starts since returning May 13 — a great indicator for any pitcher, especially one who just turned 40 years old. In commenting to the New York Daily News on Sabathia (but before he knew about Pettitte), Girardi said the Yankees could get by for a little while without CC:
"We have a pretty experienced club," Girardi said. "There's no doubt we're going to miss him but we have a pretty experienced club. We lost the greatest closer (Mariano Rivera) of all time and we were able to respond. We lost our setup guy (David Robertson) and we were able to respond. We just got to play through it. (But) it's nice knowing that, it's our belief, it's only going to be two starts. So we should be OK."
The same holds true even after losing Pettitte. The two things Cashman has to be concerned with, however: Will Sabathia's injury really only affect him for two starts? And will Pettitte be able to pitch as effectively once he returns? Trading for a pitcher of any significance would be costly. It might make more sense to go for a bigger name, like Milwaukee's Zack Greinke, if and when he becomes available, rather than adding a stopgap.
Once again, this is why Cashman gets paid the big bucks.
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