I fairly certain I’m in a majority when I say this: I fully expect the Yankees to put Freddy Garcia in the bullpen to start the year. Not that he deserves to be there – Garcia was terrific last season, and he’s been terrific this spring — but there’s too much long-term value in Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda.
Those three don’t have Garcia’s track record, and they’ve lacked his consistency, but they’re physically capable of being very good – maybe even great — major league starters this season. Their upside is significant, and it’s hard to turn away from that potential when it seems to be big-league ready.
But if the Yankees truly are planning to dump Garcia into the bullpen, Joe Girardi is doing his very best to avoid that impression.
Today, Girardi talked about the need for Nova to improve his fastball command, for Hughes to see continued progress with his cutter, and for Pineda to keep working on the changeup. The big thing Garcia needs to work on? Getting innings. That’s it.
“You look at Freddy’s year last year and it was really good,” Girardi said. “And for a guy that’s not supposed to be pitch well in spring training, he sure has pitched well.”
It’s true, Garcia has been one of the five best starting pitchers in camp this spring, and Girardi even mentioned today that his fastball velocity is a little higher than it was last year. Velocity’s not a huge thing for a guy like Garcia, but Girardi sees it as an indication that his arm speed is good, which helps his split.
“I think when you look at a guy that doesn’t have a lot of time, you’re trying to consider the upside of what you could possibly get because they don’t have the same track record,” Girardi said. “I think you have a pretty good understanding of what Freddy’s going to give you.”
Someone is going to be bumped out of this rotation, and although I still believe it will be Garcia, it seems he’s doing all he can to stick around.
“Somebody’s going to be disappointed,” Girardi said. “That’s the worst part of this, is that somebody’s going to be disappointed. And they’ll have to get over their disappointment and help this team however it is.”
Associated Press photo