With David Phelps going on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, the Yankees now have the best injured starting five in all of baseball.
Phelps -- sidelined for at least two weeks, possibly up to a month, with tendinitis in his right elbow -- joined the growing list of Yankees pitchers to hit the shelf this season, alongside CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, and Ivan Nova. The team just can't catch a break.
The Yankees called up Matt Daley from Triple-A Scranton to take his place on the active roster, rather than bringing up one of their last remaining starting options in the minors, Bryan Mitchell. So it appears that Esmil Rogers, who tossed three scoreless innings on Sunday night, will get the ball on Friday night against the Indians with Pineda still a couple weeks away from returning.
Pineda pitched in his first rehab game on Sunday, and is probably looking at making two more starts to get stretched out before he's ready to pitch in the big leagues again. Assuming he makes it through those last two or three starts -- and you really have to go out on a limb to assume that -- the Yankees will be getting a big boost their rotation.
The second big arm they're waiting on next is Tanaka, who played catch on Monday for the first time since being shut down nearly a month ago. Tanaka said he felt great afterwards and that he'll throw again on today, as he's in the early stages of a long road back.
My guess is that Tanaka, if all goes well, will be back sometime in mid-to-late September, which would slot him back into the rotation just in time for the final stretch run at the playoffs.
But while getting Pineda and Tanaka back in time for a playoff run would be a much needed jolt for the rotation, it's not going to be enough to not only get in the playoffs, but probably not enough to take down a team like Detroit or Oakland, who built their pitching staff just for October.
It's easy to believe that the Yankees are a batter team with Phelps, who has held down a rotation stop pretty nicely since taking over for Pineda earlier this season. With him in the rotation with Brandon McCarthy, who has been everything the Yankees needed since coming over from Arizona, and Hiroki Kuroda, it sure looks a lot better than Rodgers in there with Shane Greene and Chris Capuano.
They might not have needed to get one at the trading deadline, but the Yankees now need to add a starter this month. Brian Cashman has done a great job so far this season making trades without giving up his biggest prospects, and we're going to need him work his magic one last time.
There are several quality starters that I expect to be place on waivers this month. Cole Hamels and Ian Kennedy are going be the biggest names, but probably too expensive for the Yankees to get. AJ Burnett and Bartolo Colon will probably be thrown out there, too, but I don't see any reunions happening here.
Really the two names that I'm looking for for a possible waiver deal are John Danks of the Chicago White Sox and the Astros' Scott Feldman. Both pitchers are owed a lot of money over the next few seasons, but if their teams are willing to eat some it, a deal might be worth making. And going on that same note, the Yankees are going to need starters for next season, and like I mentioned, both are signed for at least two years beyond 2014.
The Yankees' playoff hopes are far from over, just five games out in the AL East. But without another starter, their chances are very grim.
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