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Luis Cessa and Chad Green are suddenly vital to Yankees’ playoff chances

Once a source of skepticism, the Yankees’ new starters may now keep the team in the hunt.

New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Back in December, many Yankees fans scratched their heads at a trade that sent lefty reliever Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two relatively anonymous pitching prospects, whose ERAs were both around four during their time in Triple-A.

Those no-names, Luis Cessa and Chad Green, were the pieces acquired for Wilson, who had been a proven asset for Girardi’s bullpen. The only known factor of the Yankees’ return was that Cessa was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets at the trade deadline last season. It may have taken over half a year, but it is safe to say the return value for that trade is starting to come into focus.

Cessa is coming off a phenomenal first major-league start, where he surrendered only three hits in six plus innings in a 5-1 victory over the Angels. Green’s last two starts have been stellar, including a shutout beauty against the formidable Blue Jays offense. His last outing was slightly overshadowed by a lack of run support in a 2-0 loss to the Angels on Sunday, but he was still incredibly effective.

What is also incredible is how these two youngsters have evolved from unknown arms to a potential life raft of what was a sinking starting rotation, and the playoff hopes of the Yankees may rest on these two young arms the rest of the way.

It is unfair to expect performances like Cessa and Green had over the weekend to continue on a regular basis, but if they can provide consistency in the back end of the rotation down the stretch, they could not only help the Yankees stay in the hunt for 2016, but also help solidify a rotation for 2017 that is currently a major question mark.

With Nathan Eovaldi a non-tender candidate sidelined until at least 2018, and CC Sabathia still trying to rediscover his effectiveness of the first half of this season, the Yankees need their new rotation additions to keep the team in ballgames, and let the youngsters on offense do the rest.

The “Baby Bombers” have provided a spark in the Yankee offense, and the team has recently found the home run ball they were searching for in the first half of the season. Still, the new look lineup is not powerful enough to carry a beleaguered rotation, which is what makes fellow rookies Green and Cessa so crucial as we approach the final month of the regular season, with the Yankees still in shouting distance of a playoff spot.

We’ve seen the Yankees catch lightning in a bottle before, with the likes of Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon a decade ago. Cessa and Green have shown in a small sample size that they can take the mound and win ballgames, at a time when the Yankees need wins in bunches, and cannot afford to encounter a hole in their rotation every few games and lose more ground in the standings as a result.

Anybody with an interest in the Yankees would have told you in April that the young Yankees pitcher to watch would be Luis Severino. Unfortunately, he has yet to find his way this year, and instead we have two other young arms who, early on, are performing like we all hoped Severino would before the year began.

The whole situation is ironic in every sense of the word. Two prospects who were considered the result of a poor trade that would weaken the pitching staff might be the antidote to a crippled rotation. Both are young and throw hard, and could not only be showcasing themselves for 2017, but keeping the Yankees’ hopes for 2016 alive in the process.