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Can this pitching staff hold up against contenders?

Last night had a playoff atmosphere, two top teams facing off, one the Yankees certainly could see come October. The crowd was ready, the beat writers were ready, Twitter world was ready. Unfortunately for the Yankees, though, Chad Green was not. If last night was a test-run for the playoffs, Green and Jonathan Loaisiga surely failed.

This series, along with the next two against the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers, are going to show us what this pitching staff is truly made of. I’ts been quite some time since this team faced a legitimate contender – Red Sox included – and have seemingly been overlooked by the tremendous winning clip the Yankees have been on. Facing teams like the Orioles and Blue Jays can give you false confidence, allowing you to sweep any weaknesses under the rug, for now. Any confidence they may have had, however, came crashing down last night against a hot Cleveland Indians team.

Even the sweep against the O’s, Yankee pitching gave up a collective 21 runs across the four games. The split against the Blue Jays, 20. They caught the Red Sox at a time where it felt as though they had all but given up in a four game sweep, but when they (Sox) had life in Fenway, the Yankee pitching was embarrassed yet again. However, the last time they faced a legitimate contender in the Minnesota Twins, the Yankee offense, and Aaron Hicks, had to go all Superman mode to bail out nearly every Yankee pitcher. This sparked a historic two week stretch of the worst pitching this franchise has ever seen.

Life has been good for the New York Yankees, pushing through adversity, coming through in the clutch, finding diamonds in the rough disguised as position players, and beating up on the American League East. They are built for 162 games, and are running away in their division. The question remains: are they built to win eleven games in the playoffs?

Although this year has shown this pitching staff has not passed many tests, they’ll face yet another over the course of these 10 games (last night included). Who will step up to gain the trust of Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman? Until last night, the Opener was their best bet, yet even now that is in question. As Yogi has said, “It’s getting late early,” and many injuries remain. If this team is not 100% come playoff time, the pitching will really need to step up and show their worth. This lineup, not healthy, may not be able to mash their way to a championship, so clutch pitching is key, and as of right now, they’ve been anything but.

It’s all fun and games when you face the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees were pure bullies. Last night showed, however, the O’s are officially in the rear view mirror, and a team who could very well bully them in October, bullied them last night. Not fun the other way around, is it?

These next nine games are the most important of the season. Who are the New York Yankees and what can this pitching staff do when the pressure is on? If these next three series expose this pitching staff the same way they’ve been exposed all season long, the next thing to be exposed will be these players golf swings.

Much earlier in October than expected, too.