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There’s still a void in the rotation

Tweet [1]

[2]The ideal situation for the Yankees would be to get at least 950 innings from their starting pitchers in 2009.

The Rays (973.1), Red Sox (966.2), White Sox (998.1) and Angels (1,012) were around that number last season and made it into the playoffs. The Yankees got only 898.1 innings from their starters. How the rotation performs pretty much determines the course of the season.

The Yankees were in trouble when Chien-Ming Wang went down in June and were finished off when Joba Chamberlain joined him on the disabled list. That led to all manner of riffraff taking the mound.

So, how can they go about getting to 950 innings this season?

Put down CC Sabathia for 225 innings. It’s unreasonable to expect more than that. Put down A.J. Burnett for 190. Given his history, it’s hard to expect more. Figure Wang for 200. Chamberlain will be limited to around 140 or so.

That’s 755. So where are those extra 200 innings coming from? Team officials have said they’re ready to draw the line on spending and that Andy Pettite missed his chance. But the rotation is no place to suddenly get a financial conscience.

In theory, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Alfredo Aceves could give you those 200 innings. But that assumes the other four starters stay healthy and do what is expected. That’s a big assumption.

The Yankees don’t just need a No. 5 starter. They need a No. 6 and No. 7 starter. Joba will need a break. You don’t want to abuse Sabathia. Burnett is Burnett. Wang is coming off a serious injury.

Pettitte declined last season. But he would be a worthy No. 5 starter in that he knows how to pitch in the AL and he’s comfortable in New York. He would give the Yankees a big chunk of those needed innings and allow the other starters to blend in when needed.

Of course Andy has to be willing to take a pay cut and a one-year deal. It’s a two-way street at this point in his career.

The Yankees have taken dramatic steps to get better. But they’re leaving open a trap door for no reason.