The Yankees have all sorts of questions surrounding their rotation these days, between Phil Hughes’s innings limit, A.J. Burnett’s inconsistencies, and Javier Vazquez’s (temporary?) demotion to the bullpen. But at least they could hold out hope that help was on the way, that Andy Pettitte — as reliable a pitcher as they had in the first half — could return from a groin injury and slide into the No. 2 spot in the rotation just in time for the final playoff push. That a healthy Pettitte meant that even if one of their troubled starters pitched himself out of the rotation, they could still assemble a foursome for October. That the Segio Mitres and Dustin Moseleys of the world were just holding down the fort. Today, they’ll learn a lot about how realistic all of that is.
Pettitte’s recovery hasn’t gone nearly as well as they’d hoped — such is life, we suppose, for a 38-year-old pitcher — and his last attempt to throw off a mound ended when he felt something “grab,” ensuring he wouldn’t pitch until at least September. Today, he’ll try again, from the bullpen in Chicago — where the Yankees open a three-game series tonight. He’ll first throw off flat ground, then (hopefully) will continue off the mound. Joe Girardi realizes as much as anyone that if Pettitte again feels discomfort, it would be “a pretty big setback.” We’ll say. With all due respect to Dustin Moseley, cross your fingers that all goes well today. On both hands, just to be safe.