Coming into spring training the Yankees had two rotation spots open and veterans Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia were fighting for those spots with Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, and a list of minor league prospects.
With about a week and a half left in spring training the Yankees have cut most of the minor league prospects battling for a spot, the rest will be cut soon, rumors have spread that they could release Mitre, and the battle has narrowed to Colon, Garcia, and Nova (Mitre is still technically in the mix, but an extreme longshot at this point).
Nova, 24, seems to have the no. 4 spot in the rotation locked up. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has denied that he’s already won a spot saying that “he has to earn it” which sounds as if he’s at least left the door open to leave him out of the rotation. He’s had a good preseason and has added an effective slider to his arsenal that already included a plus curveball which is good reason to believe that he will ultimately win a job.
The biggest reason that he wouldn’t win a job is because Nova still has minor league options left and the Yankees would lose Colon, Garcia, or Mitre if they don’t make the big league roster out of spring. The Triple-A rotation is currently full without Nova though, making it more likely he wins a job.
That leaves one spot for Colon on Garcia. Based on spring stats Colon should be the favorite, but spring stats don’t mean much though and Garcia is a notoriously bad spring performer even in his good days. What makes things interesting with these two is that neither is willing to go to the minors if they don’t immediately make the team although both said they would be willing to be the longman in the bullpen.
Colon, 37, pitched effectively in winter ball this offseason and has carried that over into spring training. His fastball has some pop on it and it seems possible that he has another season left in him with the upside of a no. 3 starter. The thing is that Colon hasn’t thrown 100 innings since 2005 so even though there are signs of life left in him there is certainly reason to doubt him at this point.
Garcia, 35, has been roughed up a bit this spring, but that seems to just be him living up to his reputation. Based on performance, he has been out played, but he threw over 150 innings last season and even though his stuff is not the same as it once was he has been praised for his pitchability all spring.
So ultimately what it has come down to is Nova and a bet between which veteran will have the better season. There is only a week and a half left in spring and general manger Brian Cashman said he would like to see this battled wrapped up sooner rather than later so it’s possible that each pitcher will get one more shot to prove themselves.
What do you think? Does Nova have a spot locked up? Does Colon have another season in him? Or is Garcia the better bet? Where does Mitre fit in to all of this?