From John Harper:
If there was any doubt, Andy Pettitte’s late-night start in Anaheim Monday night became must-see TV for Yankee fans Sunday when Joba Chamberlain had a train-wreck outing against the Mariners Sunday.
At this point, any realistic hopes of winning a championship could well depend on Pettitte getting through six innings without more shoulder fatigue. Because you sure don’t want to have to depend on Chamberlain as a playoff starter.
While Harper does overstate his point a bit (if the Phillies can win a WS with Blanton, Myers, and Moyer in their rotation, the Yankees could survive a hobbled Pettitte), tonight’s start is fairly important in terms of ascertaining that Pettitte is in fact fine, as he claims. With AJ Burnett and Joba Chamberlain flashing some inconsistency, the Yankees need Pettitte to be the second constant in the rotation, alongside CC Sabathia.
If the Yankees know that they can count on Andy for 6 innings and 3 runs, they can be more liberal in using their bullpen when some of their more inconsistent starters begin to show signs of falling apart. Conversely, If you cannot be sure as to what you might get from Andy, you may push Burnett further than you might want to even if he clearly does not have his best stuff. Having just one dependable starter will put a tremendous amount of pressure on the offense and bullpen, and leave these Yankees in as precarious a position as most of the Yankees teams this decade have been in.
The Yankees do not need Andy Pettitte to be spectacular to win a championship. However, an effective Pettitte would go a long way in establishing the Yankees as favorites to take home the 2009 World Series trophy.
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