With Each Passing Day, Bombers' Starting 5 Seems To Become Less And Less Reliable

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees seem to have many irons in the fire, especially when it comes to starting pitchers.

It’s hard to blame them. Aside from Michael Pineda, the Bombers’ starting rotation has lacked consistency, which is why they have been linked to several solid and seemingly available options league-wide.

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There have been reports of the Yankees’ interest in Cole Hamels of the Phillies and Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake of the Reds. Then on Sunday, there was a Boston Globe report mentioning New York’s apparent fondness for both Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

While the idea of Buchholz seems far-fetched considering the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees, Samardzija, a free agent to be, makes a lot of sense. The Bombers liked him last year before he was traded by the Cubs to the A’s prior to the deadline only to eventually sign with the White Sox over the winter.

Unlike some of the Yankees’ other reported targets, Samardzija’s asking price would probably be low because he’s having a rough season (4.56 ERA, MLB-high 123 hits in 108 2/3 innings) for a team that is currently 10 games below .500. When on, however, the 30-year-old right-hander has tremendous stuff, as evidenced by his 2.99 ERA in a combined 33 starts for the Cubs and A’s last season.

Currently a half-game behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay atop the division, the Yankees have been treading water for weeks, losing 11 of their last 20. The reasons for their malaise have as much to do with their starting rotation as they do an offense that has a tendency to be feast or famine.

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Pineda has been the closest thing to an ace the Yankees have, but after him it’s hard to know who to trust. Masahiro Tanaka has been knocked around over his last two starts, leading some to believe his already-damaged right elbow might be a bigger issue than manager Joe Girardi is letting on.

Then there is C.C. Sabathia, who is 3-8 with a 5.59 ERA, numbers that speak for themselves as he tries to reinvent himself from a power lefty to a finesse pitcher. Youngster Nathan Eovaldi is 7-2, but his inexperience and 4.81 ERA make it hard to predict what he will do in the throes of a pennant race.

Ivan Nova was brilliant in his first start in nearly 14 months following Tommy John surgery, allowing just three hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a win over Philadelphia last week, but it’s hard to imagine the Yankees expecting him to be an anchor in the starting five so shortly after a major arm procedure.

On top of that, converted reliever Adam Warren, the only other starter who showed consistency this season, was sent back to the bullpen Monday to act as a bridge to current closer Dellin Betances, and likely will remain there after No. 1 closer Andrew Miller returns from injury because Girardi has implied he’s not going to employ a six-man rotation.

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So it’s starting to look like the Yankees are positioning themselves to make a move, something that could be the difference between making the postseason or ending up as an also-ran in an extremely winnable division.