The weight that is pulling New York down is none other than its well-staffed starting rotation.
"It's a friggin' mess right now,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com on Sunday.
Coming out of spring training, the Yankees looked to be in good shape, with ace CC Sabathia welcoming newcomer Hideki Kuroda for the 1-2 punch. Ivan Nova hadn't lost in a baker's dozen, and Phil Hughes was just a couple of years past an 18-win season. Freddy Garcia returned after a strong 2011, and the Yankees then had two studs waiting in the wings: Mariners phenom Michael Pineda and arguably the best postseason performer in history, Andy Pettitte.
As of Sunday, Pineda is out for the season with a torn labrum, Garcia was sent to the bullpen with a 12.51 ERA after Saturday's brief start, and Pettitte is still rounding into form in the minors.
That means the Yankees are one short — even without the problems the other starting four have had in a sluggish start to the season.
New York will likely turn to David Phelps for a spot start. Phelps has been the long man in the bullpen, which has been excellent for the Yankees all year even as the starters stumbled. The next step would presumably be bringing Pettitte up.
The Yankees looked like they were going to be strong from the mound after shedding A.J. Burnett and dealing for Kuroda and Pineda, but the cracks in their pitching foundation only show that a great roster on paper doesn’t always guarantee success.
Still, the Yankees are winning, even with the rickety rotation. The pendulum can always swing the opposite way.