Can New York Yankees Overcome Hurting Bullpen in Bid for Postseason Berth?

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Can New York Yankees Overcome Hurting Bullpen in Bid for Postseason Berth?
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Consecutive losses have all but eliminated the New York Yankees from AL East title contention, and late Friday night, the injury bug took a sizable bite out of their bullpen.

From the team's Twitter account:

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Although overshadowed by Mariano Rivera and his lavish retirement gifts, David Robertson has established himself as the most effective pitcher in New York's bullpen. He leads all Yankees relievers with a 1.85 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and ranks second behind Mo in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Boone Logan, an impending free agent, enjoyed a stellar first half to 2013. However, he's found it increasingly difficult to throw strikes recently. The Texas native arrived in the Bronx in 2010 as a lefty specialist, but his platoon splits have gradually become milder.

It's September, so active rosters have expanded. That ensures that manager Joe Girardi can always find somebody to pitch the crucial seventh and eighth innings, but none of his options rival Robertson or Logan in terms of quality. Once-promising rookie right-hander Preston Claiborne has been maimed in back-to-back appearances versus the Boston Red Sox, and Joba Chamberlain is an enigma beyond salvation.

A short-handed bullpen shifts pressure onto the starting rotation. The current quintet of Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova and David Huff won't likely provide enough length to spare the healthy relievers from overuse.

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Don't count on Sabathia willing his team into October like he did for the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers.

Let's not overestimate the Yankees offense, either. Automatic outs like Derek Jeter and Chris Stewart often disrupt big rallies, while Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano have been the only consistent power sources in the everyday lineup. All in all, this isn't an elite crop of position players capable of carrying a team.

New York seems extremely vulnerable at a time when it can least afford to lose ground in the standings. Both the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians leapfrogged the Yankees in the AL wild-card race following their latest triumphs.

For just the second time is as many decades, expect the postseason field to exclude the sport's most storied franchise.

 

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