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As the Yankees enter a grueling stretch, the starting rotation will have to shine

The pitching staff has been under the microscope for much of the 2018 season. That will only intensify in the coming weeks.

New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers - Game Two Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Thanks to a painful amount of rain and postponements (including two in the past week), the Yankees find themselves in the early stages of a long and tiring stretch that spans 41 games in 42 days, including a pair of doubleheaders. In his first year as a major league manager, Aaron Boone might have to get creative with his bullpen usage and roster construction in order to keep the Bombers fresh through this daunting run that will carry the Yanks to the All-Star break.

Boone’s decision-making will be an important part to the upcoming schedule, but the most vital component to the Yankees’ success will be the starting rotation. Fittingly, the answer to the Yankees’ current scheduling conflict will be the area of the roster that has been questioned the most since winter. The best way to keep a bullpen rested when days off aren’t an option is length from starting pitching. The current staff will have to find a way to provide that rest if they are to enter the All-Star break atop the AL East.

With Jordan Montgomery done for the year and the trade deadline still two months away, the Yankees’ rotation will likely remain the same through this 42-day stretch. Starters like Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and Domingo German will have to grind through the fifth and sixth innings to lighten the load on the bullpen, which is operating without Tommy Kahnle and innings-eater Adam Warren, who is trying to correct himself after suffering a back strain in April.

Looking at the rotation through an optimistic lens, the staff has shown a step in the right direction through their most recent rotation turn. Luis Severino did his thing by tossing eight solid innings in Monday’s doubleheader against the Tigers, while Sabathia twirled a seven-inning masterpiece on Tuesday night in Toronto. Since his incredible first career start, German has been struggling to find length and consistency as he tries to plug the Montgomery-sized hole in the rotation, but he improved in game two of Monday’s doubleheader when he went 6 23 innings to keep the bullpen rested. Gray, who has been inconsistent all season, threw eight two-hit innings against the Blue Jays last night.

All of these outings could prove to be outliers, or they could be the first step of a rotation that’s starting to find it’s way. Gray is obviously better than his current overall season numbers, and German may be settling into his new role as a starter. Whatever the case, we’re still in early June, and most teams are not ready to throw in the towel, so a trade at this point is unlikely. The Yankees are stuck with what they have for the time being, and with the heavy workload that awaits, they better be up to the challenge.