With A.J. committing rotation hara-kiri in August for the 2nd season in a row, the rotation picture moving forward should have been clearing up significantly. But with the recent goings on of the rest of the guys in the current 6-man situation, things are just as blurry as ever.
Bartolo Colon, the man who was the clear cut #2 starter behind CC earlier in the summer, and who was arguably the Yankees' best starter for a brief period earlier in the year, has been on a steady downward trend since July, and it's gotten to the point where it's blatantly obvious now and everybody is talking about it. As I said earlier in the week, I can't really get on Bart for getting worn down given his injury history over the last 3-4 years and his drastically increased workload this season. But his decline might be the biggest cause for concern for the Yankees moving forward, given how well he was pitching earlier and the fact that he was considered a "sure thing" behind CC during that time.
Freddy Garcia has been out with his hand injury for a few weeks now, and he didn't exactly light the world on fire in his first rehab start in Triple-A earlier this week. He should be plenty rested after his DL stint, and he doesn't bring a lot of lightning to the table on his fastball to begin with, so a breakdown similar to that of Colon shouldn't be a concern. But Freddy's ability to be successful with his scrap heap of offspeed stuff against better hitting teams is a major question. The Yankees won't be facing the Mariner or Twin offenses in the postseason, and he needs to be sharp with what he does have to handle the likes of the Rangers and the Fraud Sawx.
And last night, Phil Hughes, he of the 4 consecutive games of 2 < ER allowed, took a big leap back. He allowed 6 ER and 7 hits in just 2.2 innings of work. He walked none and struck out 5, but his stuff didn't look that great and his command was even worse. After all the good work he had done before last night, Hughes was looking more and more like his 2010 self and more and more likely to get a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. But last night's disaster will only bring back all the questions about how confident the Yankees can be in him moving forward and whether or not he'd be better off in the 'pen (for the record, I don't want to see Hughes back in the bullpen ever).
The individual struggles are bad enough, but the worst thing about all of this is that it creates more opportunities for A.J. to continue to be a part of the rotation. He obviously doesn't deserve the spot, but all the rest of the rotation options failing to set themselves apart from him combined with the blind loyalty and faith that Joe still seems to show in him makes A.J.'s chances of sticking around look better with each rough outing had by somebody else .
It's almost September and the Yankees are still CC and ... ? Somebody, or somebodies, needs to step up over the next couple weeks and establish themselves to make Joe's decision a little easier.