Buster Olney over at ESPN.com wrote today that his feeling is that Freddie Garcia will be the Yankees' fifth starter. While it's not uncommon for this writer to disagree with Mr. Olney on a number of things, there is great respect for the man and gratitude that he writes so thoroughly every day. So let the Fan say this as respectfully as possible: POPPYCOCK! Monday's start against the "A" line up of the Tampa Bay Rays showed succinctly why Bartolo Colon should be the Yankees' fifth starter.
The Yankees have had an open competition all spring for the rotation and Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon have won it. Garcia has not been nearly as effective and his upside is not nearly as strong as the other two. Nova has to be there. The home grown product has pitched very effectively this spring and he serves the need to go younger and develop the guys in the Yankee system. Colon has been a revelation. He's been a strike throwing machine all spring and how can you not be impressed with his seventeen to one strikeout to walk ratio?
This Fan watched his outing on Monday and his fastball has life and great movement. His change up is consistently baffling and he simply looks like he knows what he is doing. Yes, the Fan acknowledges that Garcia had some early success last year while Colon did not pitch in the majors at all. Both pitchers have close to the same career wins. But at his best, Colon was much better. His pitching reminds this observer of Pedro Martinez in that he simply knows what he is doing. He doesn't have the pure talent that Martinez had, but unlike Pedro, he's kept his fastball. And this Fan absolutely loves that back door fastball that Maddux used to throw. Colon threw four or five of those brilliantly.
It's important that Colon throws strikes. In a league where on base percentage is key, he doesn't allow teams like Boston and Tampa to settle in to take those walks. It's also impressive that as many strikes as Colon throws, so few batters square up against him. Yes, Kelly Shoppach hit a homer off of Colon in the sixth inning Monday. But that was a fluke if nothing else. In the regular season, Shoppach should never get a fastball to hit because that's the only thing he can hit.
So what is the argument for Garcia? He was healthy last year and Colon wasn't? He's more durable? Okay. Fair enough. But what do you want for your team, a healthy guy who you can count on or someone that consistently gives you a chance to win? Exactly. Give his Fan the best chance to win and see what happens. If Colon falters, you have other options...albeit young options, but options. The Fan would keep Garcia for insurance and for the bullpen over Sergio Mitre. But that's as far as it goes here.
The Yankees have to make the rotation, Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Nova and Colon. Anything less would be the wrong choices. What's the use of having a competition if, when push comes to shove, you give the job to the guy who lost it?