Freddy’s back!

The win salvages a split with the last place Orioles after the Bombers dropped the first two games of the series, and the return of Garcia allowed the Yankees to push C.C. Sabathia back a day, lining him up to start the series opener in Boston tonight. More importantly at this point in the season, it also crystallized a fact that seems to be strangely debated by Yankees fans right now: Freddy Garcia is a playoff starter.

Honestly I can’t believe there’s even talk that Garcia wouldn’t have a spot in the October rotation at this point. Without question, Garcia has been one of the Yankees three best starters over the course of the full season. Over 128.1 innings he’s pitched to a 3.09 ERA, and a 3.66 FIP despite a K/9 below 6.0. That’s mostly because he’s been very good at limiting walks and home runs (even if his xFIP indicates he might be getting lucky on the latter count). It might be hard to believe Freddy has really been as good as he has been, but it’s very nearly September, so it’s time to start believing. I can appreciate concerns that Garcia’s arsenal of junk balls might not play as well against a good hitting team like Boston or Texas, and that he doesn’t look like the kind of pitcher you want taking the hill in game two of a playoff series, but at some point you just have to go with the guy who has gotten the results and hope for the best.

Really, the past two days have done a lot to bring the playoff rotation more into focus. Garcia has to be considered a near lock for a spot now, and would need to totally fall apart over the next month to be left out. Ivan Nova turned in another quality outing Sunday night, and also has to be considered a favorite for one of the four spots, again assuming the wheels don’t fall off for him in September. That leaves one spot for either Bartolo Colon or Phil Hughes, and after Bid Bad Bartolo showed that he’s got something left in the tank after all Sunday afternoon, I’d have to think he’s all but guaranteed himself a postseason start, assuming he doesn’t run out of gas before that.

That leaves Phil Hughes the odd man out, of course, and I’m okay with that. Sabathia, Colon, and Garcia have been the rocks of this very good rotation all year long, and Nova has come on strong in the last month to be a real weapon as well. And I wouldn’t discount Hughes entirely either. He can still pitch his way into the mix in the next month or so, or may be forced into one out of necessity. But with roughly a month to go in the season, and after the last three games, I think we now have a very good idea of which pitchers have spots to lose for the playoffs.

Now, if I could only find a way to go back to February and tell myself that the postseason rotation would be Sabathia, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, and Bartolo Colon, if only to see the look on my face.

5 thoughts on “Freddy’s back!

  1. jay_robertson

    Shoot – not that Mr. Cashman has asked, but I'd feel better with a healthy, productive Hughes in the bullpen. I'm pretty sure he'd be more reliable than, say, Burnett…

    The (obvious, I realize) advantage to having "good" Phil in the pen is that should Barto, Ivan, or Freddy end up with a rocky start and get knocked out before the 4th, I would much prefer Phil as Fireman, even tho Noesi has looked decent, and Burnett is the multi-million dollar man. With the four you named, and Hughes to fall back on, I feel better after this pass thru the rotation than I have for a few weeks.

    As you kept mentioning, the wheels can STILL fall off any or all; but at least today, it all looks good.

  2. Bill

    I may be whistling in the dark here, but there's something about Phil Hughes that tells me if he's physically right and the situation demands it, he will come up very big. Last fall it looked like he emptied the tank on the Twins and had nothing left for the Rangers. Remember he pitched real well in that panic start against the Red Sox on the next to last Sunday of the regular season and he also won a game in relief with an overpowering ninth inning against the Sox on the following Saturday. Just seems that the young man, if healthy, has the ability to rise to the occasion. We'll find out tomorrow.

  3. Ben

    If Garcia is for real, isn't it high time we stop calling his pitches junk balls? By my count he threw one junk ball last night, the home run. Otherwise, he pitched a great game and it's not luck, it's crisp breaking pitches mixed in with a fastball that topped out at 91. And as for that Boston lineup, he pitched great in their last meeting.

    • BrienJackson

      "Junk ball" =/= "bad pitch."

  4. rick.

    to me a "junk-baller" is someone like livan hernandez and i think right now, garcia is still a bit better than that

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