NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees have started the second half of the season with a bang, sweeping the Reds to pull within three games of the first-place Orioles in the American League East.
But if the Bronx Bombers are going to make the postseason — and make noise in October — they’re going to need an ace to lead the starting rotation.
Could that ace be Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee?
According to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, the Yankees scouted Lee’s final rehab start last week. The Blue Jays, currently tied with the Yankees in the AL East, were also on hand to watch the veteran pitch.
The four-time All-Star had been on the disabled list since May 21 with a strained flexor-pronator tendon in his pitching elbow. He was activated from the DL on Monday and will start against the Giants.
Last week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that he needs to upgrade New York’s pitching staff.
“I have to reinforce our pitching, in my opinion,” Cashman told ESPN.com. “I have things that I feel I have to try to do, that I’m trying to do, but it is easier said than done.”
The Yankees’ staff has been decimated by injuries.
Ivan Nova underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, Michael Pineda is not expected back before August and CC Sabathia is out for the season. And to cap it all off, rookie Masahiro Tanaka — who was competing for the Cy Young Award – is out a minimum of six weeks with a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear. He may, too, need Tommy John surgery and could very well be out for the year.
“We have to try to improve, reinforce and upgrade, certainly,” Cashman told the website. “We certainly would love to have some significant upgrades, but when you lose four out of five starters it is hard to re-materialize the same type of abilities with the guys you lost. It is whether you incrementally upgrade.”
The only remaining starter from the Opening Day staff who is still in the rotation is Hiroki Kuroda. New York’s other current starters include David Phelps, Brandon McCarthy – who was acquired earlier this month – rookie Shane Greene and Chase Whitley.
In 10 starts this season, Lee — who will turn 36 in August — is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA. He’s struck out 61 and walked nine.
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