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Reeling from the loss of two key cogs at the top of their rotation, the rest of the Yankees are now charged with the task of weathering the storm. Only mere hours after C.C. Sabathia was placed on the 15-day DL with a groin strain, Andy Pettitte was forced to exit yesterday's matchup against the Indians early after being struck on the leg by a sharp Casey Kotchman grounder. The resulting prognosis: broken left ankle; recovery time: at least six weeks; finding comparable replacements for both lefties: doubtful.
Though only expected to only miss two starts, the loss of Sabathia cannot be overstated. As expected, Freddy Garcia was moved into Sabathia's start Monday night in Tampa Bay, while rookie Adam Warren will get his first career start Friday against the White Sox. Obviously Garcia has plenty of experience to draw upon for the sudden change in roles, leaving the bullpen for the rotation, but his exit will only weaken a pen that's constantly being aided by Sabathia's ability to go deep into games. That allows the relievers to stay fresher over the course of a series. Compound CC's injury the loss of Pettitte as well, and suddenly the stability of your entire pitching staff is in question.
All that's transpired over the past 24 hours may be concerning, but as of now there's no reason to overreact if you're the Yankees. Sabathia shouldn't have a problem coming back off the DL when eligible, so in reality that leaves only a single spot for New York to worry about. Garcia pitched well last season and it's still only June. Besides, it's not like a starter is going to have to come in and dominate to be productive. Ivan Nova has nine wins this season despite possessing an ERA north of 4.00, and even Phil Hughes has eight wins despite having an ERA near 5.00 prior to his last start Tuesday night. If I were the Yankees I would be much more concerned about the inconsistent performances the young starters are giving right now, because they're the ones who may be called upon come October, not Garcia or Warren.
There is one player to keep an eye out for though, and that's David Phelps. Recently sent down to the minors to stretch out his pitch count, Phelps was demoted specifically for a situation such as this one. It's apparent manager Joe Girardi would prefer to keep Garcia in the long relief role so he doesn't have to further shuffle up a bullpen that for the first time in over a decade finds itself without the greatest closer in the history of the game. Phelps pitched incredibly well when called upon this year, and if he starts as well as he did when coming out of the pen, expect the Yankees to choose youth over experience in this scenario. The Yankees still have a five game lead over the second place Orioles (and the best record in baseball), and seeing as how there's still over three months left in the season, I'd say there's plenty of time for the Yankees to figure out a solution for back of their rotation.