As expected Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia were announced as the Yankees’ Nos. 4 and 5 starters, respectively, Saturday morning by Joe Girardi.
Bartolo Colon, one of the surprises of spring by going 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in four starts will pitch out of the bullpen
“Bartolo is a guy we think can do a lot of things in our bullpen, or if you needed him a spot start,” Girardi said.
Girardi said he sees the 37-year-old Colon, who hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2009, as being a key component to this year's bullpen the way Alfredo Aceves was in 2009.
“I thought Ace was extremely important to our bullpen in 2009,” Girardi said.
The Yankees traded Sergio Mitre, who had a 3.33 ERA last season in the role Colon is set to fill, to the Brewers Friday for outfielder Chris Dickerson. Girardi doesn’t see turning the role over to someone with questionable durability, and who has only made three career relief appearances, as a huge risk.
“You feel not asking him to throw 200 innings, it might be easier on him physically,” Girardi said. “We will make sure we use him properly and we don’t abuse him and we don’t throw him [multiple] days in a row. We understand that this is something he’s never really done a whole lot of. So we have to be smart about it.”
Picking Garcia was the case of going with a known quantity. The right-hander went 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA last season with the White Sox, throwing 157 innings.
He hasn’t been overwhelming in four spring starts, 1-1 with a 5.93 ERA, but it’s been an improvement over his past spring efforts. He bombed last year, compiling a 10.38 ERA - and that was a vast improvement over his 16.71 ERA in spring training of 2009.
“I think that’s fair to say,” Girardi said of the fifth spot essentially being Garcia’s to lose. “We’d seen what he had done last year. He had won 12 games, threw 160 innings. He had bounced back from his injury pretty well. And we felt he had a chance to get better because he was another offseason removed from the arm issues he had.”
As for Nova, in Girardi's eyes he secured his spot by recovering so quickly from a poor outing in Dunedin against the Blue Jays March 11. His next time out, the 24-year-old no-hit the Orioles over six innings March 16.
“He really struggled against Toronto and he bounced back,” Girardi said, “and then it was apparent, OK, his stuff is back.”