The New York Yankees came into this season with arguably one of the best rotations in baseball; a rotation that features CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, and Joba Chamberlain.
While four of the five pitchers have done as expected, Wang has been injured and ineffective when pitching.
That caused Phil Hughes to be inserted into the rotation, and now that Hughes has found a spot in the bullpen, Sergio Mitre is the fifth starter.
While the Yankees have to be satisfied with their rotation this season, they could have never envisioned Mitre being a fifth starter for a month.
This leads to the question of how their rotation will look next season. There are two certainties in A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia. Without a doubt, if all else fails, these two will definitely be in the rotation for 2010.
But after that, it starts to get complicated.
The first concern is Chamberlain.
Of late, he has shown that he can handle the burden of being a starting pitcher. But do the Yankees feel differently, and want to make him a reliever next year, possibly to prepare him for Mariano Rivera's retirement?
The answer is probably not. Chamberlain has shown that he can be an effective starter, and he will likely continue in that role next season.
The next question mark is Pettitte. The 37-year-old left-hander isn't getting any younger. Throw in the fact that for the last three seasons he has been operating on one-year contracts, and retirement doesn't seem far from the mind.
Yet, if he decides to return, you can't envision the Yankees turning him down with his success this season.
But, the most intriguing spot will be the one Wang once held.
Many thought that Wang, who's 2008 season was shortened by injuries, was going to have a bounce back season in 2009. Instead, he blew up in front of our eyes, going 1-6 with a bloated ERA of 9.64 in nine starts, before hitting the disabled list ending his "bounce back" season.
Will Wang ever return to form and be the 19-game winner we came to know and love? Will the Yankees train Hughes to be a starter again, thinking Wang won't be able to rejoin the rotation?
We won't know that until next season, but my assumption is that Wang won't be a starter come April 2010.
So as of right now, the opening day starting rotation for next year will look something like this: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes.
The first four slots are pretty much set, unless of course Pettitte retires and/or Brian Cashman has a change of heart about Chamberlain.
The fifth slot is a mystery that is tough to solve. I say Hughes will regain the slot because of Wang's uncertainty.
The last question is Roy Halladay. There were trade deadline rumors of him going to the Yankees, but that cloud passed over. Could the Yankees make a push for Halladay after the season comes to a close?
Possibly, but probably not.
Though the Yankees love having as many superstars on a team as they can, Halladay's cost might be too high, even for New York. The Philadelphia Phillies had him sitting on their lap, and decided not to follow through because the Toronto Blue Jays were asking for too much.
Halladay will most likely be traded this offseason, just not to the Yankees.
So this is what their rotation will probably look like. Of course, there are no guarantees of anything.
But just like the highs and lows of the Yankees this season have kept us watching, so will this offseason.
It should be fun.
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