Whither Bartolo?

Just yesterday I opined that
, for no particular reason, Colon struck me as more likely to give the Yankees at least 4 solid innings in Game 3 of the ALDS. Suffice it to say, that assumption took a pretty big hit last night. Not that I have any more faith in Garcia, who hasn’t pitched all that well since returning from the DL, but I can’t say I have much faith in Colon either. That’s probably not totally fair, as it was just two starts ago that he went 7 innings and held the Angels to one run, but the ALDS is going to see a matchup with a much better offense than the Angels’.

So where are we now? Maybe right back where we started the season; wondering about Phil Hughes and (gulp!) A.J. Burnett. Hughes has had his rough outings to be sure, but if his barking back isn’t an issue come October 3rd, Hughes might be the safe choice to make that start. After that? I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong choice between Colon, Garcia, and Burnett. Burnett has generally been better the first time through the order than subsequent turns, do you trust him to give you 4 innings of decent quality? Do you trust Colon or Garcia more? It’s not a fun question to ponder.

What I do know is that there’s suddenly that much more pressure on C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova, the only two pitchers with guaranteed starts. Sabathia, in particular, needs to not only give the Yankees a quality outing, he needs to go deep in the game to preserve the bullpen. Thankfully the ALDS schedule allows you to only use three starters if you’re comfortable with your ace pitching on three days of rest, and I think it’s safe to say that’s exactly what the Yankees will do. If Sabathia can be counted on to save the bullpen to some extent, and Hughes can go ~5 innings while keeping the Yankees in Game 3, that will allow Joe Girardi to aggressively deploy the Yankees’ bullpen in the later innings, particularly the trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera.

And that, in my opinion, is going to be the key to navigating this postseason. Aside from Sabathia, the other starters, along with Cory Wade and Boone Logan when they’re pressed into service, need to keep the Yankees in the game long enough to get the ball to that troika of relievers, and those guys need to be able to be counted on to lock down at least three innings, and maybe even four or five once or twice. If they can do that, the offense can handle any of the other American League playoff teams. If not, October is going to be a big letdown from the joy of winning the division.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

4 thoughts on “Whither Bartolo?

  1. Colon looked very bad. Even tho he was kinda pitching for his post season position, you have to wonder how much was just the hangover from the previous night's celebration. After all, DJ was looked worse than Nunez at short last night – but I'm not worried about him when the games count.

    Fwiw – Barto looked a bit lethargic and disconnected – from my comfy chair, he it looked like he sucked it up and bore down in the second inning – only losing focus and going back to sleep after Jeter threw the ball into the stands, and extending the inning. (that WOULD have been the third out, Colon WOULD have gotten out of the inning clean – with only a three run lead, he might have tried harder.)

    I'm just saying that Colon does appear to be nearly out of gas – but the second inning, and the California start show me that he might have enough left to win a playoff game. Or two. I can see him thinking to himself that he only has so many fastballs left, Girardi had conceded the game before it began, and then the only two pros left – Jeter & Swish – both commit Single-A errors before the end of the second – he might as well save his bullets.

    Maybe do a game like the first of the double header – only make this one a tag team of Colon, Burnett, and Garcia. I could see each of these going thru the lineup once cleanly, with the trio getting the game to the 7th or 8th in a position to win.

  2. Wallace Matthews had some disturbing numbers on the velocity on Colon's fastball: http://es.pn/pkFYdS. His pitch speed has dropped about 3 MPH on both his four and two-seamer. So Jay, it doesn't matter if Colon might have tried harder, because there's probably nothing left in his tank.

    • Not good – the YES radar gun showed him hitting 93 and 94 in the 2nd – but agreed, it doesn't look like there's much left.

  3. I completely agree that October may be a big let down with the current state of the rotation. Since the Yankees were able to pretty handily wrap up the division, thanks in part of the awful play of the Red Sox, it seems to have gone mostly unnoticed that the fight for three spots in the playoff rotation between 4 or 5 pitchers has gone to desperately searching for two out of four starters who may actually be able to give the team a chance to win in October. The two starters out of the four with the best ERA in September are Hughes and Burnett, and Burnett's ERA is just over 5.

    I am curious to see how the narrative may change if the Red Sox take two out of three from the Yankees this weekend. Especially if the Red Sox get even a decent amount of starting pitching, and Garcia and Burnett get lit up.