Saturday, March 26, 2011

AB4AR 2011 Season Preview: The Rotation (Part II)

(Guess which 2 made the rotation.  Used courtesy of BBD)

Obviously word of my decision to split the rotation preview post into 2 got back to Joe quickly, since he made it official yesterday that Ivan Nova will be the 4th starter and Freddy Garcia will be the 5th.  So that we know who the last 2 are, let's take a look at them.

Ivan Nova made some appearances late last season, both as a starter and as a reliever.  And while opinions are mixed on just what his ceiling is and where he best fits into this team's makeup, there's no denying that Nova has talent and pitching moxie beyond his 24 years of age.  He lives off his fastball, which sits mid-90s but can be ratcheted up to 96-97 when needed, and Nova is very good at locating the pitch down in the zone to get ahead in the count and induce a lot of ground balls.  The thing he needs to work on, like other Yankee pitchers, is developing reliable secondary stuff that he can mix up as he gets through a batting order a 2nd and 3rd time.  That was his big problem last year, but the development of a slider that he has shown in ST could be just what Nova needs to get over that hurdle.  Struggles aside, he still put up a respectable 4.50 ERA in his limited Major League innings last season.  As a 4th starter, something in line with that would be acceptable for the Yankees, and anything better would be gravy.

Last, and in this case least, is Freddy Garcia, who won the 5th starter job over Bartolo Colon merely on the fact that he is more of a known commodity than Colon these days.  Apparently, Joe thinks a crummy known commodity is better than a risky unknown, and I can appreciate that logic, but there won't be big expectations for Garcia this year.  After getting off to a good start in ST, Garcia has come back to Earth with his stuff, as I suggested, and he will get by this year on his experience and offspeed pitch location, not his heater.  Garcia's role will be that of an innings eater, just somebody who Joe knows can stay healthy and go out there and give him 5 league average innings and hand it over to the bullpen.  But that role will be determined by the pitchers in front of him.  If the top 4 can do their jobs and provide length, Joe can stagger his 'pen to be ready to cover extra innings in Garcia's starts.  If they can't, Garcia's role becomes more important and he will have to step up and provide quality innings, not just innings.

Projected Rotation

1) CC Sabathia- LHP
2) A.J. Burnett- RHP
3) Phil Hughes- RHP
4) Ivan Nova- RHP
5) Freddy Garcia- RHP