Yankees Choose a Starter While Adding to the Competition

Freddy Garcia shouldn't feel too comfortable

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Figuring out who the Yankees will trust with starting rotation jobs this season hasn't been easy.

    The candidates have all had peaks and valleys over the last month, making it very hard to project who has the consistency needed to take the ball every fifth day.

    Some aspirants were obviously too young, and some -- Sergio Mitre comes to mind -- were miscast from the first day of the race.

    With Ivan Nova secure in one of the open spots, it is down to Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon for the final spot. The question about which one to choose seems to come down to the devil you know and the devil you don't.

    Colon has a better arm, which theoretically gives him a greater upside than Garcia, but he also hasn't been even moderately successful in years.

    Garcia is an underwhelming pitcher to watch, but he has proven that he can slog his way through opposing lineups with just enough guile to win games for his team. That track record seems to be serving him well as the battle winds down, although you shouldn't be too keen to write anything down with a permanent marker.

    For one thing, Colon might still make the team as a long reliever.

    If he can show the Yankees that his successful spring wasn't just a case of showing up in midseason form thanks to winter league ball, he'll get his chance as soon as Garcia gets rocked off the mound.

    This is a fluid situation.

    The Yankees served a reminder of that on Friday morning when they signed Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal.

    He's definitely in the Garcia class of pitchers in that he's been a reliable horse of modest accomplishments over the last few years. He won't be ready to start the year with the big club after missing all of spring training, but he'll get there soon enough to be an option when (or if, should you be feeling optimistic) Garcia falters.

    Millwood probably won't be the last name thrown into the pot. The Yankees are going to cobble things together at the back of the rotation until they find a real answer to the issue.

    That will make for a lot of stories over the course of the year, it will mean an endless stream of trade rumors and it will probably boil your blood on more than one occasion as a mediocre veteran gets slapped around by the opposition.

    No matter how bad it might get, though, it is worth remembering that the Yankees will not live or die because of their fifth starter. It's just an entertaining sideshow to the hitters and pitchers that will ultimately decide their fate.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.