The Yankees have had their autopilot set to Robotic Dominance for about two months now, and the main question about their first postseason series has been less about whether they will win and more about whom they will beat. (Signs point to Detroit.) But last night, before the game and the fight and all that fun started, we were all reminded that even the sturdiest foundation can still be built on sand. Now that Yankee Imperialism has returned … it’s time to start fretting.
Three hours before the start of the Yankees’ brawl-ridden loss to Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, manager Joe Girardi announced that the Yankees would skip Andy Pettitte’s next start because of “shoulder fatigue.” That’s sometimes called a “tired arm.” And arms are important.
The Yankees did everything they could to make it clear that there’s nothing to see here, that the rest — he won’t pitch again until next Monday, in Anaheim; Chad Gaudin takes his start tonight — will fix whatever problem there might be. And hey: Who said there was a problem? No problem here.
But what if the rest doesn’t fix Pettitte? The Yankees suddenly seem mighty shorthanded, rotation-wise, come October. An extended Pettitte absence — which isn’t happening! They’re quite clear on that! — would leave CC Sabathia as the lone reliable starter, with the inconsistent A.J. Burnett in Game 2 and the three-inning wonder that is Joba Chamberlain in Game 3. If they needed a Game 4 starter? Well, you have to hope it’s not Sergio Mitre, who was hammered last night, giving up seven runs and four homers in five innings. To a Blue Jays lineup, that isn’t exactly playoff-caliber.
Mitre’s wretched start led to a repeated sound we hadn’t heard around the new stadium much of late: boos. Four separate instances, to our count, culminating in a heavy shower in the top of the sixth, when Girardi finally put Mitre out of his misery. It was obvious to everyone in the Bronx that the man has no business in a playoff rotation. Right now, he isn’t. But he could be.
But Andy Pettitte is fine. Just some rest. Just some fatigue. It happens. Nothing to see here. Please disperse.
Admit it: It’s kind of nice having something to worry about, isn’t it? Everything had just been going too smoothly.