On merit, the competition between Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia – who both have out clauses should they not be on the 25-man roster – hasn’t been close.
Colon allowed a run and two hits, striking out five and walking none, Monday night against the Rays in a 3-1 loss. He has struck out 17 and walked one in 15 spring innings, compiling a 2.40 ERA. Pounding the strike zone throughout, Colon threw strikes on 52 of his 64 pitches.
“He was really good,” Joe Girardi said. “He did what he’s done all spring…It’s something to chew on, that’s for sure.”
The big question facing the Yankees is whether they go with a comparatively known quantity in Garcia, who won 12 games, though with a 4.64 ERA, last season with the White Sox, or Colon, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009.
As Brian Cashman said of Garcia before Monday's game, “I know what he is,” meaning a battler who, regardless of radar readings, competes and often is able to find a way to get people out. Cashman is not as sure what he has in Colon, a one-time No. 1 who could be showing signs of producing a last hurrah – which would suddenly give the Yankees a former Cy Young winner with near-ace stuff pitching from the fifth spot of their rotation – or could be another in a long line of March baseball illusions.
"Listen, we’ve all been deceived in March before, but we’ve also been rewarded with March before," Cashman said. "You go through the motions, you put the work in, you see what you see in the games and you have to make a call. And you hope it’s going to be the right call. We might be picking the right guy, we might be picking the wrong guy. You just have to wait and see.”