ALDS Schedule 2011: Lack of Starting Rotation Depth Will Be Yankees' Undoing

Joseph HealyCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox on September 25, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It's hard to believe that a team that spends as much money on player salaries as the Yankees can still have glaring holes headed into the postseason, but they do.

The Yankees starting rotation is woefully thin. To be frank, they might have the thinnest rotation of any American League team in the postseason.

Given that playoff series are very small sample sizes, top-end talent is usually more important depth, but you still have to have several pitchers you trust.

Right now, the list of starting pitchers the Yankees trust is very short. It includes C.C. Sabathia and that's it. I'm not in the room when Joe Girardi and his coaches discuss such things, but I feel pretty confident in saying that.

The options to start games after Sabathia are as follows: A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon. Apparently nearly $200 million just doesn't go as far as it used to.

Even the Tigers, a team that struggled at times to get good starts behind Justin Verlander, has better depth. Verlander is the likely American League Cy Young winner and Doug Fister might be the best pitcher few know about. After being acquired from the Mariners, Fister went 8-1, with a 1.79 ERA for the Tigers.

The series really comes down to Game 1. The first game of the series is huge in almost every series, but it's even bigger in this one. The Yankees desperately need Sabathia to come through with a virtuoso performance.

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The Tigers will have the pitching edge in Game 2, no matter who opposes Fister, and the Yankees can't afford to face the possibility of getting down two games to none.

The Yankees are a team that has the look of a championship contender on paper. Their lineup is stacked with All-Stars and the back end of their bullpen is air tight. But they just don't have the arms in the starting rotation to win it all.

Game 1 of this ALDS series is set for 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday night on TBS. Game 2 is set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. EDT on TBS.