It's the same story, year after year, regardless of how good the Yankees are. They need help in the starting rotation. They are probably the fourth-best team in all of baseball right now, behind Philadelphia, Boston and Texas. Sure, their offense can go punch for punch with these teams, but their starting rotation is surely lacking.
The only 100 percent definite pitcher right now is CC Sabathia. Next, we have Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, who have been downright amazing for what they were expected to be.
However, can the Yankees rely on them for a postseason run? Nobody knows for sure, but I don't think Brian Cashman wants to go without a backup plan.
Phil Hughes had another disappointing outing today, sure, it was only two runs allowed, but he allowed two runs and several hits to the Seattle Mariners, probably the worst hitting team in baseball, which was on a 17-game skid.
A.J. Burnett has been, well, A.J. Burnett. The enigma, consistently inconsistent. He'll throw a seven-inning gem one day, and a three-inning blunder the next. However, he has proven that he can hang around and do it when the Yankees need him to. Hughes, however, has not.
This leaves Cashman with a few options:
1. Make a blockbuster trade.
2. Bring Ivan Nova back up into the rotation.
3. Call up one of the top prospects.
4. Make a trade for a middle/back end starter to solidify the rotation.
There aren't a lot of names out there that would be involved in a blockbuster. Felix Hernandez is untouchable and Ubaldo Jimenez has way too many question marks around him.
For example, why is there such a contrast in his numbers from this year to last. Also, at such a young age and cheap contract, why would the Rockies want to shop him around?
We can pretty much assume the Yankees won't be adding either of these pitchers to the roster.
The next option, and probably very likely at some point, is to call Nova back up. If Hughes continues to struggle, count on Cashman inserting him back in the roation, and moving Hughes into the pen for maybe long relief.
The next option is to call up a prospect. Cashman has already said he will not do this, so we can pretty much rule that out.
Last, there is a smaller trade for a back-end guy. This is also possible, with the Yankees being linked to names like Hiroki Kuroda.
In a deal like this, the Yankees can ship out a few lower-tier prospects, and obtain an arm that is ready to pitch in the playoffs.
I also have another idea, call it crazy, but trade Phil Hughes.
It's seeming more likely that Phil has less of a spot on this team. With Mariano Rivera holding the closer spot, David Roberston and Rafael Soriano taking care of the eighth and ninth, and an assortment of arms for middle and long relief, it seems like trading Hughes would be a good option.
However, his value isn't very high right now, but maybe he can be packaged in a deal to land a starter, and then the Yankees would be able to hold onto Ivan Nova.
Nova seems like he has a much brighter future than Hughes right now, and frankly, he looks a whole lot better this season.