New York Yankees Spring Training: Predicting the Pitching Rotation for 2011

Kyle McMorrowCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2011

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Pitcher Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees starts against the Philadelphia Phillies February 27, 2011 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

When dealing with free agency, the New York Yankees have often been compared to the Godfather—if they see somebody they want, the Yankees make the athlete an offer they can't refuse.

However, this offseason saw the Yankees strike out in situations they usually knock out of the ballpark.

The Phillies' big acquisition of Cliff Lee, coupled with Andy Pettitte's retirement, left New York scrambling to find pitching depth.

The Yankees have only three definite starters going into next season. While C.C. Sabathia is a strong No. 1 option, Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett are wild cards. Burnett still seems to be struggling with command, and even hit his teammate Greg Golson in the helmet during batting practice Sunday.

The Yankees did sign pitchers Mark Prior, Freddy Garcia, and Bartolo Colon. However this isn't 2005, and all of these pitchers have been through a lot in their career.

An interesting candidate for one spot in the rotation is Ivan Nova. Nova pitched two scoreless innings against the Phillies on Sunday, while allowing no hits and striking out two. It's worth noting that two strikeouts came against Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, and top prospect Domonic Brown, and while everyone strikes out Howard, with a rotation as questionable as the Yankees, they'll take any sign as a good sign.

With constant praise from manager Joe Girardi, it seems as though Nova has a spot in the rotation to begin the season. Girardi told ESPN, "He was real good, you look at the six outs that he got, four ground balls and two strikeouts, it's what we want from him. We've said all along this kid is extremely talented and we like his stuff."

Sergio Mitre also had a productive outing on Sunday, allowing only one hit.

With Spring Training now in full swing, expect Mitre to be competing with Colon and Garcia primarily. While the Yankees have a few talented arms working with them during the games leading up to the season, don't count on pitchers Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos to begin the season in pinstripes just yet.

The competition to open the season will come down to those who have been here before. Girardi will not try to risk one of his young prospects to physically or mentally break down before they even get started.

Look for Freddy Garcia to beat out Colon, who hasn't had a healthy season in six years. Garcia on started 28 games last season and was 12-6 for the Chicago White Sox. His experience should be enough to win him a starter spot as long as he can have a consistently positive spring.

Whoever wins out as a Yankees starter this season, it is going to be interesting to see if they can put together a winning hand with a deck full of wild cards.