Originally written on Baseball News Source  |  Last updated 10/30/14
Andy Pettitte is due back from the Disabled list on Monday, and his return will signify maximum availability for the Yankees’ rotation. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Pettitte, will be restored back at the front of the rotation, and Phil Hughes and David Phelps are sketched into the back end.With Ivan Nova, Vidal Nuno and Brett Marshall safely stored away in the minors and Michael Pineda in the mid 90′s again  and currently rehabbing, the Yankees have no need to acquire a starter this season.The offense, even with the returns of Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira, may be another story.The Yankees currently sit 31-24 and two games out of first place, holding off the Orioles who are half a game behind them. New York has won just three of its last 11 and had sole possession at the top of the division as recently as May 25th.So what’s changed since May 20th, the last time the Yankees had a three game winning streak?The ability to score enough runs for a very good pitching staff to win games.The Yankees have scored 33 runs in the past 11 games, an even three runs a game. Remove a 9-4 victory over the Rays and it comes out to 24 runs in 10 of the past 11 games, an average of just 2.4 per game.Though they have also surrendered 51 runs over the same span, over four runs per game, a lot of those runs came late in the game with the Yankees already trailing (such as the five Boston runs on Saturday night or the May 29th and May 26th tilts against the Mets and Rays.)New York has managed to score four runs or less in nine of its past 11 games, three runs in seven of those nine and two runs or less in five of those seven. A rotation made of All Stars couldn’t do much better than the three wins the Yankees have managed to post in that span.More concerning parts making up the sum? No current Yankee is hitting above .291 and only Travis Hafner, he of part-time DH duties, has an OBP breaking .350.Though two Yankees have broken double digit long balls (Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells), the rest of the team has combined to hit 39 dingers compared to the top duo’s 24. That includes five homers by players no longer on the roster and another eight by Lyle Overbay, who faces roster elimination on Monday when Andy Pettitte returns.Wells, for those keeping track, hit 6 of 10 round-trippers in April and has none since May 15th. The Yankees, as a team, have rounded the bases with one swing just three times in the past week.What does this all amount to?Placing 11th overal in the AL in runs scored with 223, one ahead of the 19-37 Houston Astros. They have gone from the top spot to sixth in homers, 12th in total bases, and 12th in RBI, BA (.246) and OBP (.307).The Yankees are no longer seeing pitches, grinding out at bats and clogging the bases, a strategy the team has prided itself on for the past 17 years. They don’t strike out too often (10th in the AL in total strikeouts) but they also don’t steal bases much either (7th in stolen bases and stolen base %).In other words, the team is stuck and in need of reinforcement. It’s what everyone had feared from Opening Day, but pride and opportunity delayed this flaw for over six weeks. The return of Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira, particularly once they are back in the “swing” of things, should help in a lot of ways. Both batters are patient, both can hit lefties and both offer more power than their alternatives (though David Adams and Lyle Overbay have combined for their fair share of homers.)Of course, with Overbay and Adams now on the bench (unless one is shipped out on Monday) it also makes the bench stronger. Eduardo Nunez‘s return should add some semblance of a bat back at shortstop (if he can stay healthy and start hitting) and of course the returns of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez later in the year along with Francisco Cervelli and again, Curtis Granderson, could provide a late season push, but will it be too late by then? Will the four come back safely or re-injure themselves?The Yankees are in a rare situation of needing to gamble one way or another in a sport all about odds and statistics. If the season ended today New York would travel to Oakland for a one game playoff, winner taking on the Texas Rangers in Texas, so it’s premature to call the season over or even to guarantee this is anything except a multi-week slump.The issue is, unlike in year’s past, New York is not underachieving with a struggling offense. Maybe Brett Gardner gets on base more, or Ichiro Suzuki has a surge like he did when he first came over to New York. PerhapsCano will deliver more hits and cap off a career year, but other than that, nobody else on that roster can really be expected to do more than they already have, and that’s what’s alarming anytime there is an extended slump.And with the Yankees needing to be reliant on their performing prospects, their only trade chips are players like: Ivan Nova (kicked out of the rotation but with team control), Joba Chamberlain (in a walk year and buried in the bullpen) and Phil Hughes (maybe the best option to trade in a walk year, but would likely only have value on an NL team and is currently the team’s fourth starter).Effectively, dealing Nova or Hughes, the only two players who might offer some value, would kill the surplus of the team’s only strength.That may not be a gamble the Yankees are willing to take.  

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