Five things that have to go right for the Yankees to make the playoffs

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(Photo: William Perlman, The (Newark) Star-Ledger via USA TODAY Sports)

1. The rotation must stay healthy

It is not a secret that the Yankees rotation is riddled with injury risk. It has potential to be a very good rotation, but it also has the potential to be an utter disaster. The only starter coming into the season that has not experienced injuries in the past is young phenom Luis Severino.

The Yankees looked like they struck gold by acquiring Nathan Eovaldi from the Miami Marlins. However, his 2015 season came to a screeching halt when he was diagnosed with a strained foreman. With an entire offseason to rehab, the Yankees have to hope that Eovaldi’s strain is a thing of the past.

Michael Pineda is the ultimate wild card. When healthy he has shown flashes of dominance — see his 16K performance against the Orioles. However, Pineda can be incredibly frustrating to watch at times. His career has been defined by injuries ever since the Yankees acquired him from the Seattle Mariners. His shoulder issues have caused him to miss the most time since he joined the Yankees. If he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight, he has the potential to take a step forward and be a leader of this staff.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka might have the most infamous ulnar collateral ligament in the history of baseball. In the midst of his 2014 season Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL. Tanaka and the Yankees elected to forgo Tommy John Surgery, instead electing rest in hopes of his elbow recovering. Tanaka made it through 2015 without a flare up in his elbow, but still missed time due to other injuries. The Yankees can only hope that Tanaka can survive another season with his elbow intact.

CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are both unknowns in terms of health and as well as their ability to get hitters out. Sabathia entered a rehab facility back in October after publicly announcing that he was suffering from alcoholism. Sabathia has since completed his program and apparently stayed sober. The Yankees can only hope that Sabathia can find his old touch in 2016 now that he is sober. Moreover, Nova returned from Tommy John surgery in June and was never able to get into a routine. Nova is the odd-man out of the Yankees rotation entering Spring Training, but with their health issues it would not be a shock to see him receive at least a dozen starts throughout the 2016 season.

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