New York Yankees: 5 Veteran Pitchers Who Are Essential for Success in 2012

Michael DesjardinsCorrespondent IIMarch 15, 2012

New York Yankees: 5 Veteran Pitchers Who Are Essential for Success in 2012

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    If there's one thing the New York Yankees have been known for the last decade, besides winning, it's having veteran players.

    Over the last decade, the Yankees have had veteran pitchers, both good and bad, like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, David Wells, David Cone, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano and Kevin Brown, just to name some.

    Though the Yankees are trying to get younger, with the likes of Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Phil Hughes, there are still some veterans there who are key to this organization.

    Here are five veteran pitchers that will be needed in 2012.

C.C. Sabathia

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    As the ace and workhorse of this team, C.C. Sabathia is needed to eat innings and strike out opposing batters.

    He's done it so far, but with a younger rotation and without A.J. Burnett, another innings-eater, no longer part of the rotation, he'll be counted on even more to give some relief towards the bullpen.

    Sabathia knows what he's doing, though. He has for the Yankees ever since he signed in 2009. He's been able to do it for Cleveland, and even in the half-season with Milwaukee.

    All he has to do is keep being consistent.

Hiroki Kuroda

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    One of the newcomers to the organization, Hiroki Kuroda at the very least, was not only able to play in a major market (Los Angeles), but for a team that was in the midst of financial turmoil.

    His record does not truly indicate his performance on the mound; he's had an ERA below four in all four seasons with the team, including a career-low 3.07 last season.

    However, the competition Kuroda will be facing will change, as he moves from the NL West to the AL East. He'll be facing a lot of opposing sluggers on a much more consistent basis. For the Yankees to win in 2012, it is essential that Kuroda not only get adjusted to pitching at Yankee Stadium, but that he is able to handle himself against them.

Rafael Soriano

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    Rafael Soriano didn't get to play as many games as he should have last year, due to being on the disabled list from May until the end of July.

    But now he's back, and he'll be counted on to provide as the setup man to closer Mariano Rivera.

    He'll also be needed, on occasion, to save games here and there, if Rivera has been used often, or if for some reason, he gets injured.

    Soriano was a closer for Atlanta (2009) and Tampa Bay (2010), and he needs to show that he can still handle that role. Not only will he be needed this year, but he'll be even more essential in 2013. By then, Rivera will (supposedly) retire.

Freddy Garcia

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    Freddy Garcia will likely start the season in the bullpen, in favor of using the much younger Phil Hughes at the tail end of the rotation.

    However, that doesn't mean he isn't important.

    Last season, he and Bartolo Colon were both counted on to provide at the end of the rotation, and were able to do so.

    Garcia went 12-8 in 25 starts, and recorded an ERA below four for the first time since 2005.

    This year, he's more of an insurance pitcher.

    He'll primarily be used as a long reliever, and will be needed particularly when the starting pitcher struggles against an opponent.

    He'll also get a few spot starts here and there to provide some rest for the rest of the rotation.

    However, the most important thing is if Phil Hughes struggles, or if anyone in the rotation gets hurt, Garcia is going to be the first guy that comes in and fills in that spot, and he'll be immediately counted on to provide as a starter.

Mariano Rivera

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    Mariano Rivera is arguably the greatest closer of all time. It's also the final year of his contract, and might be the last season he ever puts on a Yankee uniform.

    If it is, this organization needs him to perform just one last time.

    Clean and consistent, with that devastating cutter of his, Rivera has been the anchor of this ballclub for more than 15 years.

    If Rivera can continue to make 60+ appearances, and save 30+ games, this team should do just fine.