The Knicks are falling fast in the standings and the sun is still out when most of us get out of work. That can only mean one thing: baseball season is right around the corner. Unfortunately for Yankee fans, the pitching rotation is still up in the air at this late date. We all know C.C. will be the ace, and A.J. and Hughes will round out the next two spots, but as anyone who's picked up a Daily News over the past 2 months can attest, with the retirement of Andy Pettite (this time it's for real) that elusive 4th and 5th starter are still TBA.
The potential nominees for either break out surprise of the season, or most likely to be sent back down to double A mid-season are:
- probably washed up Freddy Garcia
- Used to be washed up but maybe making a miraculous comeback (to hear the Yanks tell it) Bartolo Colon
- Cool name and showed flashes of good stuff Ivan Nova
- One time Joba replacement Sergio Mitre
None of these names should strike fear in the hearts of the Red Sox or Rays but there's always the hope that your end of the rotation will provide that spark that can carry your season.
Nova was decent in his first season in pinstripes (he was 1-2 with a 1.45 WHIP), and he's the youngest of this crew at 24, but I'm not sure if the Yankees want to add an unknown commodity to their already shaky rotation. A.J. is literally all over the place at times, so it seems imperative that you hand the ball to a steady veteran (or at least a reliable 6 inning guy) rather than a possibly nervous youngster like Ivan. That being said, he's been lights out in Tampa (1.29 ERA) and looks to be a front-runner for the 5th spot right now.
Mitre has never been great as a starter, but he's been a serviceable fill-in at times, not walking a lot of batters and occasionally giving them some good innings. But again, this is not a guy who I would be happy to see taking the mound in a must-win September game the day after A.J. got smacked around. By all accounts, he's had a decent spring, but that doesn't always translate to regular season success. Expect him to either be a middle inning guy with Joba or pitching at a minor league park near you very soon.
So far, Colon seems to be the surprise of spring training, and Yankee management have been raving about his location and fastball. They're talking about his missing the majority of the past 2 seasons as a good thing, that it helped him regain strength in his arm, and he's refreshed this year. This all seems like little more than wishful thinking to me, as the downside to missing lengthy periods of time in sports is you just don't have the stamina to last an entire season. Bartolo may be great for a month or two but I would expect him to fall apart during the summer months (not to mention he never really seemed to be in the best physical shape to begin with). Still, he's been impressive as hell thus far, so I'd expect to see the one-time Cy Young winner getting a spot.
This would leave Freddy Garcia as the odd man out. The 36 year old "chief" started off strong in spring training, but his last 2 awful outings have most likely done him in. Despite his resurgence with the White Sox last season, age seems to have caught up with Freddy. I would like to see him turn it around and maybe garner a roster spot, but all indications seem to dispute that.
So, Yankee fans, meet your new pitching rotation: 2 fat guys, a crazy redneck, a 23 year old Dominican and Phil Hughes. Could be worse I guess. Play Ball!