yankees rotation derby

Yankees Rotation Derby: First Impressions

From now until the Yankees settle on their five-man rotation, we’ll be taking a weekly look at who’s leading the race for the two spots behind CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. This week: where the candidates stand now that everyone’s gotten a chance to pitch.

1. Ivan Nova
Nova entered the Yankees spring-training slate in the pole position, and he’s only strengthened his grip on a rotation spot thus far: He tossed two perfect innings against the Phillies on Sunday, throwing 14 of 21 pitches for strikes and impressing Joe Girardi by inducing four groundballs. His fastball touched 95 mph, and he froze Ryan Howard with a curveball for one of two strikeouts on the afternoon. (Joe Girardi’s take on that outing: “real good.”) Then today, he tossed three more scoreless innings against the Rays.

2. Freddy Garcia
Garcia breezed through his first start of the spring this afternoon, allowing no runs and two hits and striking out one over two innings. As Sweeny Murti points out, the projected five starters — including Nova and Garcia in spots four and five — have yet to surrender a run through ten innings.

3. Sergio Mitre
Mitre, too, has pitched well, in two relief outings: On Sunday, he allowed one hit in a scoreless inning against the Phillies, then did the same yesterday against the Astros. He’s the only one of the four main candidates for the job who’s yet to start a game, which he’s scheduled to do in his next outing.

4. Bartolo Colon
Colon started the Yanks’ Spring Training opener on Saturday, allowing one run on two hits and a walk in two innings. (That run, by the way, scored on a triple that got past Nick Swisher, a walk, and a double-play ball.) His sinker wasn’t quite working, but he threw 23 of 36 pitches for strikes, and hit 93 on the gun. And Joe Girardi — who, for what it’s worth, has said he doesn’t “make too much out of the early games” — seemed pleased. Said the Yankees manager of Colon, following his first outing: “A strike-throwing machine that pitches down in the zone and uses his fastball a lot. That’s the guy I remember.”

5–8. Hector Noesi, Andrew Brackman, Adam Warren, and David Phelps
Through Wednesday, Noesi hadn’t allowed a run through four innings of work, striking out two, walking none, and surrendering three hits over two outings. (He earned the win yesterday by pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth, before the Yankees rallied from four runs down to win on Russell Martin’s walk-off walk.) Of course, for Noesi — or any of these prospects — to crack the rotation out of camp, they’ll not only need to excel during spring games, they’ll need the more established pitchers above to falter, which (luckily for the Yankees) hasn’t yet happened.

Meanwhile, the 6–10 Brackman impressed team officials early in camp, but a groin injury has kept him from making his spring debut — time he can hardly afford to miss if he’s to steal a spot in the rotation. (He’ll throw a bullpen session Tuesday.) Warren allowed one run, one hit, and two walks to go along with two strikeouts in his spring debut, while fellow ultra-longshot Phelps fell victim to some sloppy defense yesterday. His numbers through two outings: six hits, two earned runs, four strikeouts, and one walk.

Yankees Rotation Derby: First Impressions