On this site, we've talked a lot about how Bartolo Colon has been pitching extremely well for the Yankees.
The other starter that the Yankees took a chance on has been pitching just as well as Colon.
Freddy Garcia was another pitcher that Yankees GM Brian Cashman gave a minor league deal to and invited to spring training to win a job in the Yankees rotation. Garcia won the fifth and final starting spot in the rotation and has not wasted his opportunity in pinstripes.
Garcia has made five starts for the Yankees. He's gone 30 innings in those starts and has pitched at least five innings in them.
He's also given the Yankees a chance to be in each of the games he has pitched in.
But he still kept the Yankees alive and didn't get blown out.
In Tuesday night's game against the surprise Kansas City Royals, he needed to do the same thing he has been doing all year: Changing speeds, locating his pitches and keeping hitters off-balanced.
Garcia pitched six strong innings, allowing one run on six hits, walked two, struck out three and left the game in the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead.
David Robertson held onto Garcia's lead in the seventh and the rest of the Yankee bullpen held on for the 3-1 lead and preserved Garcia's second win of the season.
Garcia is now 2-2 with an impressive 2.61 ERA through his first five starts. When the season started, many people felt Garcia was easily good for a five-plus ERA in the tough American League East.
But Garcia isn't a power-pitcher anymore and he can't just blow hitters away like he once could. Instead, the 34-year old right-hander is relying on all of his pitches and getting hitters out.
Sure, he still can strike out batters. But when your stuff isn't what it used to be, like Garcia's isn't, you need to think on the mound and find ways to produce outs.
Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte went through the same thing when they pitched for the Yankees. It's no different for Garcia, and the results have been productive early on.
Now, like we all have wondered with Colon, can Garcia keep it up for the Yankees during the season.
He did start 28 games in 2010 for the Chicago White Sox last year, so as long as he stays healthy, then there is no reason why Garcia can't hold up into September and October.
But for right now, the Yankees are getting more than they could have expected from Garcia and it has to have a lot of fans pleasantly surprised with the results on the field.
If the Yankees want to continue their success in 2011, it looks like Garcia is a major part of the plans in the rotation—for now, at least.
Who would have thought that back in March?
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