3 key questions for the Yankees in second half

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka walks to the

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka walks to the dugout in the eighth inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

1. Will Masahiro Tanaka pitch again

this season?For the Yankees to have any chance of making a second-half run, the answer has to be yes. While injuries wrecked the rotation early on, the steady Tanaka carried the load, going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 135 strikeouts. But he felt discomfort in his right elbow after a July 8 start in Cleveland and was placed on the disabled list a day later with what was diagnosed as a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Three top orthopedic surgeons recommended rehab for the next six weeks rather than Tommy John surgery that would sideline Tanaka for the rest of this season and the first half of next season as well. The importance of the 25-year-old's return, as much of a long shot as it is, can't be overstated.

2. Any chance CC Sabathia and/or

Michael Pineda provide any help?The short answer: The Yankees aren't counting on it. Sabathia could be facing microfracture surgery in his troublesome right knee, which could be career-threatening. Pineda, sidelined since late April with a strained teres major muscle, which is located just below his surgically repaired right shoulder, has the better chance to return this season, but the club is not depending on it. This puts the pressure on general manager Brian Cashman to acquire at least one starting pitcher, and probably more, before the trade deadline.

3. Can the offense ever get it going?

Two of the Yankees' headline free-agent pickups, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, mostly have been busts to this point. McCann is hitting .239 with a .294 on-base percentage, 10 homers and 39 RBIs. Beltran has been a mess, with a combination of injuries and slumps contributing to a .216 batting average, a .271 OBP, nine homers and 28 RBIs. One, if not both, desperately needs to kick it into gear.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Baseball videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday