Despite hurling some of his best stuff in five years (1-0/2.40/15 IP/17 K), Bartolo Colon will start his season with the Yankees in the bullpen.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi announced Sunday that the team will round out its rotation with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia as its fourth and fifth starters.
Though the announcement was touted as "expected" by many media outlets, including ESPN, it still comes as a surprise to anyone who has followed both players' springs or even their careers.
Colon was the victim of a manager already making his decision as to whom he was going to pick before either of them took to the mound.
In an article from ESPN, Girardi touts what Freddy Garcia had done in the lead up to spring and in the past season as the reason he picked Garcia over Colon.
Colon did not have any stats to speak of in 2010 due to injuries.
So if Colon outperformed Garcia so blatantly this spring—and Garcia has been mediocre at best over the past few seasons—what put the nail in the coffin for Colon?
That's right. Joe Girardi's reason to ESPN was, in essence, that he didn't expect Colon to be this good:
"Bartolo was the wild card in all of this," Girardi said. "I didn't really have any expectations for Bartolo. I had no idea what to think, what he was going to do. You didn't know his velocity was going to be as high as 93, that he'd have that much movement on his fastball, that he'd be able to pick up a cutter in a day. And it happened."
So, the only place that makes sense to keep him is in the "mop-up duty" roll in the bullpen, where Colon will see very limited action.
This could very quickly become a moot point, however.
Both have a very long injury track record over the past five years. We could see one (or both!) of these guys land on the DL before we even have time to argue who should have gotten the spot.