On Saturday, Carl Pavano will make his first major league start for the Yankees in over a year. No, you didn't read that wrong. Carl Pavano will be pitching for the New York Yankees. Pavano, who has been working his way back from Tommy John surgery, was given the nod as the starter over Phil Hughes who has also been rehabbing from injury.
When the Yankees signed Pavano prior to the 2005 season it appeared as if they had made a really good deal. In 2004, Pavano had a record of 18-8 and an ERA of 3.00 with the Marlins. Given his age and his record, the Yankees expected stability and success from Pavano.
To say Pavano started off his time in New York rough would be a huge understatement. In his first season he had a record of 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA. He spent time on the DL in 2005, and started the 2006 season on the DL with tendinitis in his shoulder. Pavano spent more time rehabbing in the minors in 2006 then he did pitching in the majors.
To make matters worse, while recovering from elbow surgery, it was revealed that Pavano had concealed that he had been in a car accident and had suffered a few fractured ribs. Not only was Pavano collecting another $10 million while he was injured, he was lying about his injuries leaving the Yankees without a starting pitcher for an even longer period of time.
At the start of spring training in 2007, there were a lot of doubts about whether or not Pavano would be a contributing factor to the team. Joe Torre told the media before camp broke that Pavano had a lot to prove to his teammates and the rest of the organization. It was almost ironic when Pavano was named as the 2007 Opening Day starter (due to Chien-Ming Wang being on the DL). Maybe 2007 was going to be Pavano’s break out year to silence all the critics? But the word ‘maybe’ had surrounded Pavano for his entire time with New York so it was no surprise when he landed back on the DL by mid-April.
Shortly after it being put on the DL, it had been announced that Pavano would undergo Tommy John surgery to repair tendons in his elbow. Considering the long recovery time for that surgery, Pavano was expected to miss the remainder of the 2007 season, and much if not all of the 2008 season, the last year of his contract.
Injuries have plagued much of the Yankees’ roster this season, pitchers in particular. Chien-Ming Wang has been out since June and is scheduled to miss the remainder of the season, while Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes, who were expected to be serious contributors to the rotation, have yet to make it back to the majors due to injuries and various other factors.
Pavano has been quietly getting back into pitching shape. With Joba Chamberlain on the DL for at least another week, and Dan Giese (who filled Chamberlain’s rotation spot now on the DL), the Yankees needed a starter for this weekend. Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have said that they expect Pavano to pitch well since he has had good rehab starts. Then again the Yankees expected him to be a solid starter when they signed him four years ago and look how well that turned out.
Don’t get me wrong; I would love to see him go out on Saturday and be the dominant pitcher he used to be and help salvage the remainder of the season. The Yankees and their fans have been waiting for the real Carl Pavano to show up for the past four years. Saturday when he takes the mound against the Orioles, we'll see who decided to show up.