When it rains it pours and buckets are falling from the sky on the Yankees right now.
As if it weren't bad enough that the first two games of the series with the Red Sox have shown a gap between the teams far bigger than the one game that separates them in the standings, now the Yankees probably need to find a permanent replacement for a key cog in their machine. Joe Girardi announced Thursday that an MRI revealed a torn ligament in the right elbow that sent Joba Chamberlain to the disabled list on Wednesday.
Joba will be heading to see Dr. James Andrews to find out about next steps, but Girardi sounded resigned to losing the pitcher for a long time. Girardi said that Chamberlain hasn't shown any symptoms, although he also said he doesn't know how you avoid Tommy John surgery in a case like this.
That procedure is a lot less scary than it was a few years ago, but, at the very least, it would mean no more Chamberlain for the rest of this season. That leaves the Yankees in some pretty dire straits.
They have already lost Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano for an indeterminate amount of time, leaving Mariano Rivera and David Robertson as the only trustworthy people for Joe Girardi to turn to in the late innings. That's a stark turnaround from the offseason when the Yankees looked like they were going to turn every game into a six-inning affair because of the depth and talent stockpiled in front of Rivera.
Now it looks like Brian Cashman is going to have to start working the trade wire to find some arms that can do some heavy lifting.
That's not going to be easy because he's also going to need to address the back end -- the back four-fifths, really -- of a subpar rotation. There are only so many prospects to deal without sacrificing too much of the future for the present of a team that can't really afford to keep getting older year after year.
There was a sliver of good news amid all of the dark clouds Thursday. Phil Hughes is going to make a rehab start next Tuesday and if all goes well he could be back in the Bronx a bit sooner than expected.
What role he'll fill is up in the air, but a strong return would make Cashman's life much easier. That would be nice because the dual injuries to Chamberlain and Hughes will certainly create a lot of questions about the way they were handled over the last few years.
Did the shuffling of roles and the strict limits placed on them wind up creating problems? Perhaps, but the cruel truth is that pitchers blow out their arms while being used in all different kinds of ways.
All you can do now is try to fill the void and move forward with the rest of the season. Easier said than done, but it has to be done all the same.