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The celebration of the Yankee division title lasted just about 20 hours.
Jorge Posada's game-winning single, the champagne in the locker room and whatever went on in the wee small hours of the morning were delightful, but the return to Yankee Stadium on Thursday night provided a stark reminder of what still lies ahead this year. Thanks to Bartolo Colon, that reminder was tinged with more than a little fear.
Colon, who spent much of the season as a feel-good story by pitching well after missing all of 2010, gave up three runs in the first inning to get everyone worried about the rotation once again. He wound up giving up seven runs, five of them earned, in a three-inning outing that led to a 15-8 loss and left you wondering about the long-term impact of getting stem cells injected into your shoulder.
That's the space age procedure Colon had to help him get back into the big leagues and it seemed like a medical marvel when Colon was 8-6 with a 3.30 ERA through the end of July. Since then, though, Colon hasn't won a game and his ERA is an unhealthy 5.58.
That makes you wonder if there wasn't some kind of deal with the devil associated with Colon's surgery and it makes you pretty sure that the Yankees aren't going to bother with starting him in the postseason. Throwing Colon on the mound right now is essentially punting a game and that's just not something you can do in the postseason.
But throwing A.J. Burnett feels like the same kind of punt while Freddy Garcia is a slightly better crapshoot that isn't likely to work out against a good lineup. Phil Hughes was doing well recently, but he's now battling a back injury and we'll have to wait and see what kind of shape he's in when he gets back on the mound on Monday.
That leaves you without any choice but going with a three-man rotation in the first round of the playoffs. CC Sabathia will start Game One and then come back on short rest for Game Four, while Ivan Nova pitches Game Two and a potential Game Five on regular rest.
Yes, a rookie sent down to the minors a couple of months ago is, by far, the best choice to start a potential win or go home Game Five in the playoffs. Nova's been good this season, but it is still fairly remarkable that a team with this payroll and these expectations has no other choice but Nova.
Kinda scary, but nowhere near as scary as letting Colon, Burnett, Garcia or Hughes pitch such a game.