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Robertson to DL, Nova better: Yankees’ pitching depth to be tested


The New York Yankees are hurting. David Robertson has been placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique according to various tweets from Yankees beat writers. Ivan Nova was said to be feeling better and may make his next start. While a team never wants to lose members of the back end of the bullpen or its rotation, the Yankees are built to withstand the losses for short or long periods of time.

Robertson, who was expected to receive a majority of the save opportunities after the Yankees suffered their crushing loss of Mariano Rivera, was unavailable again last night after continuing pain in his left rib cage. He’d been feeling the effects of the pain since Saturday. The Yankees sent him for a MRI today, and he was diagnosed with a strained left oblique and will be heading to the disabled list.

We first learned from a tweet by NY Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand, that Robertson wasn’t listed in today’s lineup card, but Cody Eppley was, so it was likely Robertson was off to the DL. Feinsand’s next tweet verified the 15-day DL visit.

What it means now for the rest of the bullpen is that for almost two weeks (the stint should be retroactive to Saturday), there is no closer controversy. Rafael Soriano has that job now. It will be interesting to see if he runs away with it, but that is for another column.

Otherwise, it shifts the late inning burden to relievers like Boone Logan and Cory Wade and maybe even David Phelps. Logan notched a save recently and Wade has pitched well this season.

For the next couple days, there could be a problem using Logan as a set-up man if Clay Rapada is unavailable due to the viral infection he felt the effects of during last night’s game. Logan would then be the only lefty in the pen and Girardi may want to use him in particular situation versus holding him to pitch a specific inning.

Nova left last night’s game after he turned his ankle after making a play at first base. He said it was very painful last night and hoped that he would not miss a start. A tweet from ESPNNewYork.com reporter Wallace Matthews indicated Nova came into the locker room with a limp and a heavily bandaged ankle. That said, Nova told reporters he still intends on pitching Saturday.

If the prognosis changes and Nova misses a start, the team could use Phelps to fill in. He was just sent back to the bullpen upon Andy Pettitte’s return. It was by no means a demotion, just a matter of the number of spots available. If for some reason a DL stint is required for Nova, the Yanks should install Phelps back into the rotation and call up a reliever. Phelps has been pretty consistent and deserves the chance to pitch in his more comfortable role as a starter as much as possible.

The Yankees are now down their two best relievers and may have dodged a bullet with one of their starting pitchers. The back-end of the bullpen, once a major strength for the Yanks, is now the team’s biggest question mark. Let’s see how the members of the ‘pen respond to the increased importance of their roles.