The New York Yankees starting rotation is in a bit of a pickle considering both CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are likely not due back to the team until next month, and that is if they're both healthy and ready to pitch.
It's even more tough considering their replacements; David Phelps and Vidal Nuno, have not done the job for the team. Chase Whitley, a rookie with all of five starts under his belt, has done the job, but Phelps and Nuno, currently 40 percent of the team's starting rotation, have not.
Now, it would be easy for the Yankees to simply dip into their Class-AAA roster and simply call someone up like they did with Whitley last month, but there's nobody in Scranton right now that's pitching to the point where they deserve to be in the major leagues, which is why Nuno and Phelps still have jobs.
Phelps, fresh off giving up seven runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings in an 8-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals, just continues to show that he doesn't belong in the Yankees rotation. Phelps is fitting the bill of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain; pitchers just not cut out to do well in the New York market and more in line to pitch in a smaller market. After the loss, Phelps is now 1-4 with a 4.88 ERA; his lone win was almost a month ago against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While Phelps shows signs of looking like a big league pitcher, Nuno has not and still looks like he needs massive work down in the minors. Nuno, currently 1-2 with a 5.33 ERA, hasn't won another start since his first one over the Los Angeles Angels last month. When Nuno isn't pitching poorly, he's not giving the Yankees any depth into starts, like he did in his last start this past week against the Oakland A's where he lasted just 4.2 innings. Sure, he only gave up two runs and struck out five, but he couldn't even get out of the fifth inning and it's not the first time this season he's failed to do so; it's the fourth time.
With those two just continuing to pitch terrible for the Yankees, it's going to force Brian Cashman's hand next month and make him trade for a starter because this isn't cutting it. If one of the two were struggling and the other was pitching well, it would be a different story, but with both giving lackluster starts, the Yankees can't stay in the playoff race and continue to trot both out there.
Yes, the Yankees may get both Sabathia and Pineda back next month, but how effective will they be after being on the shelf for two months? Simply relying on both to find their forms coming off the DL is a giant roll of the dice and one the Yankees can't afford to bank on if they want any hope of catching the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.
On June 8, being six games back of the Blue Jays might seem like it's a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn't, because if Toronto fades, that defecit can be made up with a couple of good weeks of winning baseball. And not to mention, the Yankees are only one game back in the A.L. Wild Card race, so they are by no means out of the race and within clear striking distance of getting back into things this summer.
So whether it's Jason Hammel, Cliff Lee (if healthy), Bronson Arroyo, James Shields (who the Yankees will see first-hand on Sunday) or anyone else the Yankees may have their eye on this coming trade deadline, expect Cashman to make another summer deadline deal and add a pitcher to a rotation that desperately needs the help to stay in the American League playoff chase.