NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Yankees have the offense to be considered a serious threat to win the World Series, but their starting pitching has raised plenty of concerns since Freddy Garcia went on the disabled list.

Perhaps Garcia’s return will provide the boost they’ve desperately needed — especially with two All-Stars suddenly ailing.

The Yankees’ most consistent starter since mid-June, Garcia will make his first start in more than three weeks Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles, hoping to help the visiting Bronx Bombers salvage a split of this Hurricane Irene-interrupted four-game series.

Garcia (10-7, 3.16 ERA) was 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA from June 12-Aug. 7, his final start before slicing through part of his right index finger in a kitchen mishap.

No one in the Yankees’ rotation has been more effective over the past 10 weeks, and they’ve certainly missed Garcia while he’s been out. New York’s starters had a 3.87 ERA in the team’s first 25 games after the All-Star break, but in the 18 games since Garcia’s been on the DL, they have a 5.87 ERA.

“If we’re going to win this division, we have to pitch better,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official website. “Right now, we’ve run into a little bump and that’s not abnormal to go through during the course of the season. But we need to turn it around.”

Garcia could be coming back at just the right time. He’s 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Orioles (53-78) this season.

Both Yankees starters fared well in Sunday’s doubleheader after A.J. Burnett was rocked Friday.

New York (79-52) wasted Bartolo Colon’s strong effort while losing the opener 2-0, but wasn’t about to do the same with Ivan Nova’s seven solid innings in the nightcap. Curtis Granderson homered twice – giving him a major league-high 38 – and Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones hit back-to-back-to-back shots in the 8-3 rout.

The Yankees, who remained two games behind division-leading Boston, are 29-7 when Granderson has a multihit game.

“It’s incredible what he’s done this year,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of talk about MVP, and that will all be settled later. He’s been unbelievable for us.”

Granderson didn’t have Derek Jeter (bruised right knee) or Alex Rodriguez (sore left thumb) around him in the lineup for the nightcap, and he might not see them Monday, either. Girardi seemed to indicate both were doubtful for the series finale, labeling their injuries as “somewhat of a concern.”

“If they can play, they can play,” said Girardi. “My sense is from watching both of them, they’re not going to be able to.”

Neither absence would upset Alfredo Simon (4-6, 4.30), but the right-hander should be brimming with confidence after turning in the best performance of his career Tuesday at Minnesota. Simon, who has shuffled between the bullpen and rotation, limited the Twins to three hits and a run over a career-best eight innings in the 8-1 win.

“This is a 29-, 30-year-old young man who’s gotten some opportunities because of the arm and his stuff, and ability on occasions to do things like he did tonight,” manager Buck Showalter said of Simon, who didn’t make it through six innings in his previous three starts. “The key is can you do it again and can you do it again and can you do it again. We all live in a what-have-you-done-for-me world, but it’s a good start.”

Simon is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in four games – one start – against the Yankees.

He’ll have plenty to worry about even if Jeter and Rodriguez can’t go. Swisher is 3 for 4 with a homer against Simon, while Mark Teixeira is 3 for 5 and has also taken him deep.

Will the Yankees take the finale? Make your prediction in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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