Even as the defending champion Yankees finish a season that will see them win well over 90 games and possibly a division title, this team is hardly invincible and cannot even be considered on the same level as last year’s juggernaut.

The first and most glaring difference between this team and last is a serious lack of depth in the rotation.

While CC Sabathia has had a Cy Young-quality season, he has been without any support in the rotation for months with no real signs of a turnaround out there.

The pressure on CC to win his starts will only increase, as he will be matched up with the likes of Cliff Lee, David Price, and Roy Halladay throughout the playoffs.

After CC is where the questions begin. Without sugarcoating it, A.J. Burnett has been a shell of what he was in the playoffs last year, as start after start he has slung the ball to home plate seemingly with no idea where it is going. It’s questionable whether Joe Girardi is going to trust A.J. enough to give him the ball and doubtful whether the Yankees or their fans will have any faith in him to deliver.

From here the questions become even more complicated. Andy Pettitte had a fantastic year going before an injury sidelined him for a month. Since coming off the DL Pettitte has been up and down in two starts. If Pettitte can regain the form he had before the injury, the Yankees can count on having two solid pitchers heading into the playoffs.

However, it is likely that the Yankees will need Pettitte to pitch on three days’ rest like in last year’s playoffs, and with his age and injuries we’ll see how long he can hold up.

It seems unlikely that the Yankees will be able to rely on just these three pitchers like they did last year, but the options after them are quite limited. Phil Hughes has had a fantastic year despite being jerked around because of an innings limit, but it seems unlikely that the Yankees will rely on him as a starter after he has already reached his supposed limit.

Hughes may be destined for the bullpen, and if they move him there for the ALDS, there would be no looking back and starting him if he were needed in the ALCS or World Series. This would leave Girardi with the pu pu platter of fourth starter options that include Ivan Nova, Javier Vazquez’s “tired arm,” Dustin Moseley, and the incomparable Chad Gaudin.

So the Yankees’ pitching may not be where it was last year, but who cares, right? This is a team built around a powerful lineup headlined by All-Stars and MVPs. Certainly they can carry them to another championship.

If you believe this, you clearly were hibernating during the Yankees’ abbreviated playoff runs between 2004-2007.

Those lineups too featured a bevy of All-Star sluggers but ultimately fell short around rotations featuring the likes of Kevin Brown, Shawn Chacon, and our familiar friend Javier Vazquez. Perhaps this lineup is good enough to make up for our flaws, but those who have watched championship runs before know that good pitching always beats good hitting.

Could this version of the Yankees defy logic and win with one legitimate starter? Completely. Would I bet on it? Absolutely not. For Yankees nation, I hope I’m wrong.

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