Tuesday night was supposed to be a homecoming on several levels. Obviously, the return of Andy Pettitte after a shattered ankle would bring the fans to their feet in support of the gutty veteran. But even more importantly, for the first time since mid-June the starting pitching staff would stand firmly intact and injury free.
However, Mother Nature had different plans and steered gusty winds and torrential downpours toward the sky above Yankee Stadium. Pettitte’s return would have to wait until Wednesday in the first part of a day-night doubleheader.
During their August and September swoon, fingers have been pointed in several directions on the Yankees roster to identify the detrimental causes, including the starting pitching. Plagued by massive inconsistency and an ever shuffling rotation, the Bombers never seem to hit that stride to run with confident momentum.
But now it appears the gang that couldn’t shoot straight has all their weapons right where they want them.
Standing in as the Rock of Gibraltar has been the freshman Yankee, Hiroki Kuroda. If someone were to say this in April or early May, they would have been met with a roar of laughter as the former Dodger’s performance went up and down between virtually every start. Through it all, the 37-year-old has weathered the early storm and now stands in a 14-10 with 3.26 ERA.
The young'ns in Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have never been able to slide into a repetitive groove this year. Unfortunately for Hughes, this has become the status quo, while Nova had some serious growing pains with the idea after an outstanding rookie campaign.
With that being said, the lost duo is now a combined 4-1 in their last five starts with an ERA under four in 30 innings pitched. Maybe they are on that long awaited "roll."
In Pettitte's absence, veteran Freddy Garcia and rookie David Phelps have been bringing up the rear in the rotation. Neither have dazzled, per se, but both have kept the Yanks in games, and that’s all a team can ask for in the back of their rotation.
Ace CC Sabathia checks in with a 13-4 record with a 3.63 record. At first glance they appear to be quite decent numbers, but with two "precautionary" visits to the disabled list he has never gotten into a rhythm that he’s accustomed to. Even though he has struggled in his last few starts, September and October are the months when Sabathia shines. Let’s just pray he stays healthy.
Hopefully, Pettitte’s return can solidify this rotation as the envisioned dream the front office had in the beginning of the season. If that’s the case, then finally for the first time all season, the Yankees can say their starting pitching is at full capacity.