New York Yankees: Should Freddy Garcia Leave New York's Starting Rotation?

Ely Sussman@@MrElyminatorCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2011

What's that old adage? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it?"

Yeah, that sounds familiar. It applies to many baseball situations.

But in this case, Yankees' manager Joe Girardi must make a contradiction.

Although his six-man starting staff has exceeded expectations, its continuation wouldn't be in the best interest of ace CC Sabathia nor any of its five lesser components.

Already this week, I've discussed the over-compensated A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon's slump in the midst of a strong season.

Somebody has to go to the bullpen, and it's not like there are any volunteers. Therefore, a decision will come down from management over the next week or two, and just like the other "non-Sabathias," Garcia is a candidate for removal.

Here's a breakdown of his performance.


Garcia as a Yankee

Like big Bartolo, Garcia wasn't guaranteed anything by the Yankees entering this season.

He was signed to a minor league contract but pitched well enough in spring training to crack the starting rotation.

Since mid-April—when he finally made his first Yankee start—Garcia has been among the league's most consistent pitchers.

He's made 20 starts in 2011 and has gone five innings or more 19 times.

Also true for 95 percent of his outings, Garcia has allowed four earned runs or fewer.

Simply put, the Yankees always have a chance to win with him on the mound.

His fastball isn't what it used to be. In fact, Garcia has to muscle up just to hit 90 mph!

But as a junk-baller, he's been surprisingly effective.


What Qualifies Him To Keep Starting

Garcia has shown no signs of slowing down, having won six of his last eight decisions to bump up his record from 4-5 to 10-7 and lower his ERA from 3.60 to 3.16.

Over that same 10-start span—nearly two months of games—Garcia hasn't given up a home run!

While he may be a fly-ball pitcher, Garcia has worked a split-finger into his repertoire.

Although opposing batters continue to make contact, they are unable to hit the ball solidly, which is usually good enough to get it out in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium.

Without the benefit of the long ball, it's been near-impossible for teams to score off of Garcia. That's because he's very comfortable dealing out of the stretch, even with runners in scoring position.

Maybe I understated it: Garcia is dominant in hairy situations.

He holds opponents to a .198 batting average and .572 OPS with RISP. And with bases loaded, Garcia shuts 'em down (1-for-8, 3K).

Also worth noting, Joe Girardi has been particularly protective of Garcia.

As efficient as Garcia is, it's shocking that his average start lasts only six innings. At only 91 pitches per outing this season, Freddy won't be subject to the same fatigue down the stretch as other 34-year-olds.  

Reasons To Worry

This fore-mentioned hot streak that Garcia rides into the second week of August has included matchups against mediocre offensive teams like the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.

That really makes me question the legitimacy of the run.

Meanwhile, the soft stuff that Garcia uses is a drastic change of pace from the rest of the Yankees' starting staff, but it's made him very easy to run against.

He has allowed 18 stolen bases while on the rubber, more than Burnett and seventh-most among American League pitchers.

Then there's the durability issue.

Garcia hasn't missed a start all year, but from 2007 to 2009, he couldn't stay healthy (23 starts in three years).

2010 also went well for him, but he'll soon exceed the 157 IP he threw. That means that Garcia's 2011 workload will be his greatest since 2006.

After all the injuries, can his arm hold up?


On a Scale of One-to-Sabathia

I admit that my argument against Freddy Garcia isn't very convincing, and the evidence for his spot in the starting rotation to remain reserved can't be ignored.

But hey, I just want to be thorough in my assessment of the Yankees' staff. So, if my confidence in CC Sabathia is a perfect 10-out-of-10, Garcia has earned an 8.

I was skeptical of Garcia from April through the All-Star Break, but I've apologized to him.

"Should Freddy Garcia Leave New York's Starting Rotation?" Of course not, but someone must.

Maybe Phil Hughes?  


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