The most obvious thing that could derail the New York Yankees' 2009 run for a 27th World Series title is inconsistent starting pitching.
Let's face it. Joba Chamberlain is a huge post-season question mark. CC Sabathia is a wonderful pitcher, but has a checkered playoff history (7.92 career ERA) and Andy Pettitte is 37, and you just can't be sure.
So, how worried are you about A.J. Burnett, who is now 1-5 with a 6.14 ERA in August and September?
John Harper of the New York Daily News gets right to the heart of the matter.
With each A.J. Burnett implosion of late, more and more Yankee fans surely envision a frightening October scenario: what if Tigers ace Justin Verlander throws a gem in Game 1, and suddenly it is up to Burnett to keep the Yankees from going down 0-2 in a five-game series, heading for Detroit?
We're still a long way from any of that, of course, and the championship form the Yankees have displayed the last couple of months should supersede any nagging fears about another early exit in October.
But for the moment, anyway, it's hard to ignore the potential ramifications of Burnett's second-half slide.
Harper add this about Burnett, who is now a pedestrian 11-9 with a 4.33 ERA.
The Yankees, for their part, gambled $82.5 million, in the form of a five-year contract, that Burnett's 18-10 season with the Blue Jays last year was proof that he had matured into a big winner. Lately, however, he has looked more like the pitcher who has never won more than 12 games in any of his other nine seasons. ...
All we can do, I guess, is hope that the good A.J. shows up when the Yankees need him. 'Bad A.J.' could be bad news for that Canyon of Heroes parade we are hoping for.