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New York Yankees: Five Questions As They Open The Second Half

-- See Pinstripe Alley for more discussion and analysis of the Yankees

<strong>Robinson Cano</strong> will be hitting cleanup for the Yankees while Alex Rodriguez rehabs from knee surgery.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Robinson Cano will be hitting cleanup for the Yankees while Alex Rodriguez rehabs from knee surgery. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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The New York Yankees open the second half of the season Thursday night in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Things are looking pretty good for the Yankees, 53-35 and one game behind Boston in the American League East. Always, though, there are questions. Here are five of them for the Bronx Bombers as they get back into action.

Can the starting pitching hold up? CC Sabathia has been phenomenal, with a 13-4 record, 2.72 ERA and a recent string of dominant performances. No worries there. The rest of the rotation? Plenty to worry about. Veteran castoffs Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have been way better than the Yankees could have hoped. Can they keep it up? Nobody knows. Can the Yankees get something out of Phil Hughes, who has given them nothing so far? When it comes to A.J. Burnett will they see more of the good A.J. or the bad A.J.? It doesn't seem like a need right now, but if the right starting pitcher is available it would not be stunning to see the Yankees make a move.

Can Robinson Cano Thrive Hitting Fourth? With Alex Rodriguez sidelined for a month or more, the Home Run Derby champion will move into the cleanup role. It isn't like Cano has to carry the Yankee offense, but it would help if he reprised what he did last season when Rodriguez was hurt. In 26 games batting fourth a season ago, Cano hit .324 with seven home runs, 28 RBI and a .400 on-base percentage.

Can Rafael Soriano Return To Form? The Yankees paid $35 million over three years for Soriano over the objections of general manager Brian Cashman. A poor start and a sore elbow that landed him on the disabled list have meant the Yankees have gotten little to nothing for their investment thus far. He has a 5.40 ERA in just 16 apperances. He is reportedly throwing batting practice and should be back within the next few weeks. If he can pitch like the dominant reliever he was the last two seasons, when he surrendedered just 89 hits in 138 innings, that would be a huge plus.

What Will Derek Jeter Do? The Yankee Captain had an inspiring run to 3.000 hits, including a majestic 5-for-5 the day he reached the milestone. Prior to that, though, Jeter had been pedestrain. He carries a .270 batting average into the second half with only a .353 slugging percentage, though. That .270 is exactly what he hit a season ago. Is that what we can expect from Jeter, or can the momentum from reaching 3,000 hits help propel him to a big second half?

What Additions/Subtractions Will They Make? I mentioned previously that they might seek a starting pitcher, though that doesn't seem likely. There are whispers that veteran left-handed reliever J.C. Romero could soon be a Yankee. Will they look to add more bullpen help? A right-handed bat? Will they continue to carry Andruw Jones and his sub-Mendoza line batting average? These are the Yankees, and you know they won't stand pat.