After a 10-0 win against the Pirates on Wednesday, in which Joba Chamberlain lasted six-and-two-thirds, allowing no runs and striking out seven, the Yanks look to finish their first series in Pittsburgh since the 1960 World Series.
Mike Mussina will take the hill Thursday against the 28-year-old left-hander, Paul Malholm.
But the real test for the Bombers will not be in Pittsburgh on Thursday. This weekend, the Yankees will be forced to stretch their young rotation to four games over three days in two ballparks.
Perhaps the most interesting day this weekend will be this Friday, as the Yankees throw their two most inexperienced starters. In the first game, the Yankees will throw Dan Geise, one of the new additions to the Yankee pitching staff.
Geise may be inexperienced at the major-league level, but he is not a young pitcher. At 31-years old, Geise has bounced between the majors and AAA-ball several times, but he has never had as much success as he has had with the Yankees.
In his young career with New York, Geise has thrown 14 innings, allowing just 10 hits and four runs, while boasting a 0.64 ERA. In his only start with the Yankees, Geise lasted into the seventh inning and was handed a no-decision against the Cincinnati Reds.
In the second game of the day-night, two ballpark doubleheader, the Yankees will hand the ball to the veteran, and newly acquired, Sidney Ponson. The right-hander has had a career of ups and downs, but this season, he has posted a 4-1 record with a 3.88 ERA.
If things do not go well on Friday for the Yankees, it is likely that the bullpen will be depleted and Joe Girardi will be counting on his veteran Andy Pettitte to take the team late into the game on Saturday.
Finally, on Sunday, the struggling Darrell Rasner will be trusted with the final game of the Subway Series. After getting off to a hot start with the Yankees, Rasner has taken a step backwards in his last five starts. In those last five starts, Rasner’s ERA has been over seven.
For the Yankees to make the playoffs, they are going to need wins and longevity out of their injury ridden and inexperienced pitching-staff. Therefore, this weekend will be a test for the Bombers’, and Yankee fans may be able to see what the Yankees really have on their staff.
And for that test, the Yankees will be facing a challenging opponent. While the Mets’ 38-39 record is certainly unimpressive, the Mets have always played the Yankees tough in the Subway Series. Also, with new management in Jerry Manuel, many of the players feel that their team has been given new life.
And the Mets also have several extremely dangerous hitters. Last night, David Wright showed just how dangerous he is after hitting two tape-measurer home runs against the Seattle Mariners.
With the stage set for the final meeting of the Yankees and the Mets this season, the pressure is on the Yankees' pitching staff. As the young starters go, so go the Yankees.