Why Andy Pettitte's Broken Ankle Is a Blessing in Disguise for the Yankees
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Somewhere deep in the bowels of Yankee Stadium, Joe Girardi just put his head in his hands and said, "This day sucks."
Wednesday has been one of those days for the New York Yankees. They may have finished off a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians with a 5-4 victory, but they had to put their two best starting pitchers on the disabled list.
Which, you know, sucks.
CC Sabathia was the first to go. As reported by MLB.com beat writer Bryan Hoch, the Yankees' big lefty had to be placed on the DL with a Grade 1 strain of the adductor muscle near his left leg (a groin injury to simpletons like you and me). He's going to be out until after the All-Star break.
Andy Pettitte ended up on the DL just a couple hours later. He took a comebacker off his left ankle in the fifth inning against Casey Kotchman, and it was obvious right away that he was in pain. He managed to throw one more pitch before he had to remove himself from the game.
Per a report from Hoch, Pettitte has a fractured ankle. The plan is to put him in a boot and have him walk around on crutches rather than have him undergo surgery, but he's going to be out a minimum of six weeks.
Sabathia's injury isn't the end of the world, but Pettitte's is a real heartbreaker. He was better than the Yankees could have possibly expected after making his return to baseball following his year off, and it sounds like the Bombers are going to be lucky if they get him back before the end of August.
But calm down, Yankees fans. Losing Pettitte hurts, but there are reasons to be optimistic here. His busted ankle is a classic case of a blessing in disguise.
I assure you I'm not trolling. Hear me out on this one.
To begin, Pettitte's injury should light a fire under Brian Cashman's posterior. He said on Monday, according to the New York Daily News, that he didn't feel any pressure to go out and make a deal before MLB's July 31 trade deadline. He said he'd just as soon hold on to the club's top prospects and keep payroll down.
“I like the players we have, the depth we have and I think it’s a championship-caliber type club,” he said.
He was kidding himself at the time. The Yankees have a damn good ball club, but a bona fide No. 2 starter is just one of several things that they need if they expect to even make it to the World Series this year.
Sabathia's injury wouldn't have given Cashman incentive to be more proactive on its own because he's going to be back in action well before the trading deadline. Pettitte's injury, on the other hand, is just the kind of incentive Cashman needed to do business at the deadline.
There are some quality pitchers on the trading block this season, and the Yankees have been linked to several of them. Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com has linked them to Wandy Rodriguez, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has linked them to Ryan Dempster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has linked them to Matt Garza and Morosi reported on Wednesday via Twitter that the Yankees are even scouting Zack Greinke.
So let's give Cashman this much credit: Even though he insisted that he wasn't looking to make a deal, at least he was still doing his homework.
Pettitte is going to be out until August. Because he's 40 years old, it's fair to expect that he'll probably need more time to make a full recovery. There's a good chance the Yankees won't get him back until the middle or the end of August. If Cashman doesn't go out and find a starting pitcher on the trade market, the Yankees' lead in the AL East will be in Jeopardy.
Regardless of whether or not Cashman finds another starting pitcher, the fact that Pettitte is going to be out for so long isn't necessarily a disaster. After all, the good news is that his arm isn't hurt, and the Yankees are going to need his arm in October.
That's the bright side of the long layoff he's about to get. His arm won't be accumulating any wear and tear, and he'll have more ammunition saved up for the playoffs. He'll be fresh and ready to go.
We're talking about a guy with 19 wins and an ERA of 3.83 in the postseason, and that's still not counting his five championship rings. The playoffs are his domain. The fresher he is for the playoffs, the better.
The situation is similar to what happened in 2010, when Pettitte only made six starts after the month of June after pitching nearly 100 innings in his first 15 starts (h/t Baseball-Reference.com). He was done in by a groin injury, and he was hit or miss when he was able to pitch in the last couple weeks of the season.
Pettitte ended up making two starts in the postseason that year, allowing two earned runs over seven innings in both of them. Despite his rocky second half of the season, he still had it in him to go out and dominate in the playoffs like he had so many times before.
The time off ended up working out for Pettitte in 2010. It will work out in 2012 too.
As for the Yankees, well, they'll find a way to weather this storm. Pettitte's injury should force Cashman into action, but it's not like the Bombers are going to sink like a rock to the bottom of the AL East over the next couple weeks.
They don't do things like that. They're the Yankees.
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