The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Risk and reward, or safe and sound

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Mar 24, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

In the end, the Yankees rotation decision has come down to taking a chance or playing it safe. There are four candidates for three jobs, and none has pitched so poorly that he clearly doesn’t belong. The ones who have pitched the most are the ones who have the most to prove. The ones who have pitched the worst are the ones with the most reliable track records.

Unless Brian Cashman finds something better on the trade market — which seems unlikely — the Yankees will break camp with three of these four options. They’ll plug one into the long relief role, and use the other two to fill the rotation.

“I think they’re all risk/reward,” Cashman said. “Low-risk/reward candidates as we entered camp, and I think they’ve all done well. Well enough.”

Highest risk
Bartolo Colon
Let there be no doubt, Colon has been one of the Yankees five best starters this spring, but he’s 37 years old, overweight and he hasn’t pitched 100 innings in a season since 2005.

“You’re looking at stuff, and the question is, does he maintain his stuff?” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “Right now, it can’t be answered, but from what I’ve seen, he can help a major league team, without a doubt… If he can stay healthy and maintain his stamina, he’s going to help us. We just have to see how it all fits together.”

High risk
Ivan Nova
Nova has been the best of the four starters this spring. He came into camp as a favorite because of last year’s numbers, and he’s been outstanding with a big fastball that he locates down in the zone.

The risk with Nova has less to do with his age — at 24 he’s easily the youngest of the bunch — and more to do with what he would cost in terms of depth. Nova is the only candidate with options. The Yankees could send him to Triple-A, keep all four candidates in the system, and if/whem someone gets hurt or struggles, Nova would provide an instant replacement. By carrying Nova on the big league roster, the Yankees have to give up someone else.

Low risk
Freddy Garcia
With the highest ERA of the four candidates, Garcia hasn’t  been especially good this spring. But he was even worse last spring, and he wound up winning 12 games, making 28 starts and generally pitching pretty well for the White Sox. There’s still some risk because Garcia had some shoulder problems the three years leading into 2010, but last year was a pretty good indication that he’s healthy and fairly reliable.

“He’s going to battle his way through starts,” Rothschild said. “He’s going to give you innings.”

Lowest risk
Sergio Mitre
It goes a bit overlooked, but Mitre was actually pretty good last year. He had a 3.33 ERA through 27 appearances, three of them spot starts. Opponents hit .223 against him, and when his sinker is working, he generates plenty of ground balls. His sloppy 2009 came the year after Tommy John surgery.

Mitre is a low risk option, largely because he seems destined for the bullpen. He probably won’t be picked for the rotation, but he’s the only one of the candidates who has considerable experience out of the pen. He’s done that job in the past, and last year he did it pretty well.

Associated Press photo of Colon

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