The Yankees have been able to count on two things all year: having Mariano Rivera for the ninth inning, and quality starting pitching.
Well, it would appear that they are without the quality starting pitching now, so the bridge to Mariano just got a whole lot longer.
Phil Hughes picked up right where he left off at the All Star Game, in his first start of the second half Hughes allowed six earned runs on nine hits and three walks, over five innings.
His overall ERA has exploded to 3.99, and his ERA over his last 10 outings now stands at a pathetic 5.23. Think about this, at the beginning of those 10 starts, his ERA was just 2.72.
His untimely struggles come with Andy Pettitte on the shelf for at least three weeks and with Sergio Mitre being Pettitte's replacement. The Yankees must also deal with the sturggles of along A.J. Burnett, and as always, the bullpen's season-long woes.
The pitching situation for the Yankees has to rectify itself quickly or we may soon see the Rays and/or Red Sox overtake the Yankees for the top spot in the AL East, and push them out of playoff contention.
Who would have ever thought that in mid July, Javy Vazquez would be the second-best starting pitcher going for the Yankees?