1. CC Sabathia

2. AJ Burnett

3. Andy Pettitte

4. Joba Chamberlain

5. ???????

The Yankees need a solid guy to fill in the fifth spot in their rotation.  Chien-Ming Wang, in my opinion, has proved he will not have it anymore – at least for the remainder of this season.  It will be sad if he no longer has it forever.

Regardless.  What to do, what to do?  Fortunately, the Yankees do have several options.

1.) Al(fredo) Aceves – Currently in the bullpen – Aceves got the emergency start on July 9 and he has been a great pitcher out of the bullpen this season, but I honestly don’t like him in the rotation.  I think he fills a great role by being able to go 2-3 innings in relief.

2.) Sergio Mitre – Currently in the rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – Read what Greg Cohen at Sliding Into Home has to say about Mitre:

In Scranton this year he has an ERA of 2.40 in 45 innings pitched. His FIP is a bit higher but 3.04 is still dominant. He’s an extreme GB pitcher, however, his K/BB in AAA this year is up to 7.00. Mitre is red hot right now and just won the International League Pitcher of the Week award….I think the obvious choice is Mitre. He’s been as dominant as you can be and they lose nothing by calling him up. Besides this he should be in his peak years at age 28 and has ML experience.

3.) Kei Igawa – Currently in Rotation at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – I know someone out there is going tho think I am off my rocker to even consider this guy.  Igawa’s last start for the Yankees came on May 9, 2008 against the Detroit Tigers.  Igawa lasted only 3 innings, allowing 11 hits and 6 earned runs with no strikeouts.  His best-ever “start” came on April 28, 2007 against Boston when he entered the game in the first for an injured Jeff Karstens and pitched 6 innings, holding the Red Sox scoreless.  He is 3-3 in his career in the ML and boasts a 13.50 ERA.

But here’s the deal.  Igawa is way too much of an investment to clog up the development at the Triple-A level.  The Yankees paid $50 million to his Japanese club just for the right to negotiate with him – and I think he earns around $11 Million a year, but don’t quote me on that.  He had a solid spring training and has a 7-3 record with Scranton this season.  He should get one more shot to start a few more games, whether it is now or later in the season.

4.) Roy Halladay – Currently player for Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays had announced that they would listen to trade offers for Halladay, the pitcher who has led the AL in wins since 2002 and is by far the best pitcher in the AL this season – earning him the start in Tuesday’s All-Star game.  However, Peter Abraham reported that the Blue Jays will not let anyone negotiate a contract extension with Halladay before trading for him – which means a team would have to give up a whole lot just to get the guy for 1 1/2 years with no guarantee he’ll stick around afterwards.  Not a good move.

5.) My favorite always has been and still is, Phil Hughes.  Phil Franchise was reliable and dominating in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and was one signing away from being the Yankees fifth starter to begin the season.  If Andy Pettitte had not come to his senses and asked for less then $10 million (the Yankees ended up signing him for $5 Million + incentives), Hughes would have received the nod.

In seven starts earlier this season, Hughes was 3-2 with an ERA around 6.00.  I’ll agree, it wasn’t awesome, but you cannot say it was horrible either.  In two of those games, Hughes threw a 2 hit shutout against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers and a 3 hit, no runs allowed outing against the Texas Rangers, who were leading the AL West at that time.  He has been in the bullpen since then, and has been spectacular, allowing 2 runs in 18 1/3 innings, with 19 K’s.

Like all young pitchers, he needs some refining and most of all, experience.  But, at age 23, Hughes is the future of this rotation.  Put Igwawa in the bullpen to fill Hughes’ empty spot and give Hughes the shot he deserves.