When one door closes, another one opens.
For the 2013 New York Yankees, the strength and depth of their starting pitching staff, expected to be enhanced by the impending return of Michael Pineda, must be the door that opens to offset the loss of Mark Teixeira to season-ending wrist surgery.
As the halfway mark of the season closes in, the idea of a highly productive Yankees offense is becoming less and less likely by the at-bat. In fact, it's almost unfair, or, depending on your rooting interest, comical to look at the lineup's Joe Girardi is forced to run out onto the field on a daily basis.
On Thursday afternoon, the 'Bronx Bombers' gave Derek Holland a gift by starting the following players as their four through nine hitters: Vernon Wells, Zoilo Almonte, Lyle Overbay, David Adams, Alberto Gonzalez and Austin Romine.
The long-term loss of Mark Teixeira, coupled with few difference making bats available on the trade market, and the uncertainty around returns from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson have left opposing pitchers hoping to see their turn come up against New York. With no distinct way to truly improve the offense, New York will have to pitch at an exceptionally high level to stay in contention with the other AL East contenders.
With a rotation led by CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, that's not hard to imagine. However, unless Andy Pettitte can turn back the clock or Phil Hughes can find some level of consistency, the Yankees rotation profiles as durable and good, but not dominating on a night to night basis.
In other words, the Yankees have assembled a deep, durable pitching staff that will keep them in the game on most nights, but not a group, like, say, Detroit, that will simply blow the baseball by opponents every game, allowing their dynamic offense time to breath and let their talent take over.
Instead, this current Yankees rotation, even factoring in David Phelps and the enigmatic Ivan Nova, can only lead a team to 90-plus wins if the offense provides a decent output or a combination of luck and clutch hitting.
Of course, if there's one arm in the system that could boost the staff and win multiple 1-0 or 2-1 games down the stretch in August and September, it's a healthy Michael Pineda.
As the reports of velocity and high-end stuff trickle out of Pineda's rehab recaps, New York can dream of adding a pitcher that resembled Matt Harvey in the first half of the 2011 season; in other words, a legitimate phenom capable of igniting a team and pitching to an All-Star level.
The potential dominance of a Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pineda trio heading into October is enough to make Yankees fans quickly forget Teixeira's power and patience combination in the middle of the order.
Unfortunately, even with Pineda providing high-end innings, it's tough to imagine the roster generating enough offense to reach that stage.
A healthy, dynamic Pineda can enhance the rotation to a great level, but if Alberto Gonzalez and David Adams continue to be afforded the opportunity to make outs, it won't be enough to save the 2013 Yankees.
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