The season hinges on you Mr. Pettitte.
CC Sabathia is the lone workhorse on the 2011 Yankees starting rotation. A.J. Burnett is simply A.J. Burnett. You may get seven innings of one-hit ball or you may get seven doubles in the first inning. Phil Hughes made great strides last year but certainly wasn't considered a workhorse. There is no guarantee he can be a full-time 7-inning pitcher this year. Ivan Nova impressed early last season but rarely pitched late into games. It would be wrong to expect such a young pitcher to contribute a considerable amount of innings per start. Sergio Mitre is Sergio Mitre. Five to six innings at the absolute maximum. At times, they may be quality starts and at times, they may not.
The 2011 Yankees starting rotation consists of one workhorse, one incredibly inconsistent pitcher, and three somewhat inconsistent pitchers. No one will confuse this Yanks squad with the Phillies staff.
Despite the strides made my Brian Cashman (and the Steinbrenners) to shore up the bullpen, there are no viable options to serve as a long man out of the bullpen. It's conceivable that in one week this season, CC will have a bad start, the bad A.J. will come out, Hughes will labor through five innings, and Nova and Mitre will have their usual starts. Who will pick up the slack?
Yes, the Yankees have some quality arms in the bullpen. But none of them are going to be stretched out. Recent stats have shown Rafael Soriano is not an inning-plus pitcher. If Joba Chamberlain's stuff does not translate to a starter anymore, how can he pitch multiple innings? Mariano Rivera is 41 years old.
The Yankees' bullpen will get burnt out if they do not address their starting rotation or add a quality long reliever. Someone has to eat those innings.
I hope Dandy Andy still has enough of an appetite for one more year.