Ever since June 27, when Andy Pettitte suffered a fractured fibula on his left ankle, we've all wondered two things.
One: Are the Yankees going to trade for another starting pitcher?
Even in fellow Featured Columnist Michael Moraitis' story, he speculated on pitchers that the Yankees could get if Pettitte's injury doesn't heal properly.
Well, I think I can safely say that Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn't making any deals this month to pick up another starter.
I think he'd rather solve the problem in-house first, which means guys like Freddy Garcia and David Phelps could get chances to pitch in the playoffs.
The second thing we all wonder is: When Pettitte is going to return to the Yankees?
He's eligible to come off the disabled list on August 27, but the Yankees aren't in any rush to make Pettitte return sooner than he's ready to.
His ankle has to heal properly for him to be effective when he returns.
He's the key to them making a playoff run. And in this slideshow, here are five reasons why Pettitte is the key to the rotation and the playoffs.
Andy Pettitte turned 40 years old this past June, and a lot of people wondered if he would hold up as the season wore on.
Unfortunately, he couldn't avoid the injury bug and sustained a fractured fibula.
However, when he does return, which seems more and more like it will be in September, his arm will be rested.
That will be at least two months of rest that Pettitte has on his arm.
He's only thrown 58.2 innings of live baseball in 2012, so it's not like he will wear down when October rolls around.
If he's coming into the playoffs with a relatively fresh arm, that could be a major advantage to the Yankees and to Pettitte.
When Andy Pettitte returned to the Yankees, he started out the season making minor-league appearances and getting himself ready to make his 2012 debut.
When he made his debut on May 13 against the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees were 19-14.
Since that date, the Yankees went 27-14, which included an 18-5 run from June 1 until June 27, when Pettitte got hurt.
It's no coincidence that the Yankees started playing better overall when Pettitte returned to the team because he gave them the jolt and spark that they needed.
Pettitte pitching well made CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova pitch better in the rotation, and they were seeing more wins, especially in June where the rotation looked at its best.
Numbers don't lie.
Like I mentioned in the previous slide, at the time of Pettitte's return, they went from a 19-14 team and made a 27-14 run with Pettitte, which means at the time of the injury, the Yankees were 46-28.
Since then, the Yankees are 19-18 heading into August 10.
Granted, Alex Rodriguez also suffered a broken hand, Brett Gardner got shelved for the entire season with an elbow injury and Mariano Rivera was already out for the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL.
But Pettitte's injury has had its effect on the team. The 40-year-old was a breath of fresh air to the team.
And the team's record since June 27 is no coincidence, since they are barely .500 since he suffered the fractured fibula.
Back in 2011, the Yankees turned to Freddy Garcia in Game 2 of the American League Division Series to try and take a commanding 2-0 lead against the Tigers.
Instead, Garcia struggled tremendously to get through 5.1 innings, while allowing four runs on six hits and put the Yankees behind early by allowing a first-inning, two-run home run to Miguel Cabrera.
That home run set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Yankees never recovered mentally in the game.
I still say it to this day: Freddy Garcia should not have been pitching in Game 2 against the Tigers.
I always wondered what would have happened in 2011 if the Yankees had Andy Pettitte instead of Garcia for Game 2.
Pettitte usually found ways to step his game up and pitch a gem when the Yankees needed him to, especially in a playoff game at Yankee Stadium.
Now granted, in 2012, the Yankees have gotten by with Garcia in the regular season.
But in the playoffs, are you honestly going to feel comfortable with Joe Girardi handing the ball to Garcia in a must-win game? No.
Or would you rather have Pettitte on the mound pitching in that game? I know I would, and I'm sure most Yankee fans would too.
There's a major reason why the Yankees brought Andy Pettitte out of retirement in March.
He's a gamer who can pitch on the big stage.
In his career, he is 19-10 in the postseason. With the Yankees, he's 18-9 (1-1 with the Astros.)
Money can't buy postseason experience—it's earned on the field.
Pettitte's postseason experience for the Yankees come October will be so valuable.
And it's the biggest reason why they need him to come off the DL and be ready to go when October rolls around.