Just like last year, Garcia is pitching well this spring. He is supposedly still in a battle with Phil Hughes, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova for a rotation spot. The return of Andy Pettitte looms in May or June. Should Garcia get a spot over any of those other pitchers? Joe Girardi has already stated that the six-man rotation is dead (thank goodness). So that is not an option. And it sure seems obvious that the Yankees want one of those rotation spots to go to Phil Hughes. And that makes perfect sense considering the progress Hughes has made and the promise he showed in the past.
All hoopla aside, Michael Pineda is going to be in the rotation. Come on. Seriously? He has done nothing to prove that he doesn’t belong there and as Brien said so well this morning, Pineda’s secondary stuff is more than adequate to get major league hitters out. Ivan Nova has his doubters out there. But with the economy with which he pitches and his season a year ago, why should he get pushed out of the rotation? No, he doesn’t blow anyone away with his stuff. But the guy was impressive down the stretch last season. He didn’t lose a game in August and September. That guy gets pushed out of the rotation? There is doubt there? It doesn’t make sense.
And yet, Freddy Garcia has gone 24-14 the last two seasons. He is a known quantity and yeah, you could say he knows what he is doing. But isn’t thinking he can repeat last season a stretch? Garcia’s peripherals were nearly identical to his 2010 season. In 2010, he had a 4.64 ERA, almost a full run higher than last year. He was basically the same pitcher though. The difference was a lower home run rate and a higher strand rate. His home run rate last season (0.98 per nine innings) was one of his lowest in years and below his career average. There is not one projection system out there that does not think the home run rate bounces back up to previous levels. There is not one projection system that predicts his ERA will be lower than 4.25. The Yankees got a bit of serendipity last year. The odds of a repeat are slim.
And frankly, once Pettitte is ready, Freddy Garcia is a moot point. The Yankees have the chance to build a young rotation that can serve them for years. To stick Garcia in the middle of that this year serves no purpose. Certainly, Freddy Garcia deserves to be starting somewhere. Trading him would be the fairest option for him. But if no trades can be had, baseball is a business and that is just the way it goes. Garcia has only come out of the bullpen twice in 329 big league appearances. So the bullpen doesn’t look attractive. But their are worse fates in life.