What a difference a week makes.
When we last checked in on the Yankee rotation, it seemed Freddy Garcia would be taking a regular turn on the hill this season.
The veteran hadn't set the world on fire during spring training, but he'd shown enough to make you think he'd be a better April choice than his competitors.
That's not the case any longer. The Yankees are nine days away from the start of the 2011 season and it finally feels like we can say with some certainty who will be in the rotation. And Garcia is no longer a name on the tip of the tongue.
That was the easy part and the part we've known for the entire offseason. The team is meeting to figure out who will be rounding things out when they hit the Bronx, but there's not really much need to wait for confirmation at this point.
1. Ivan Nova -- Nothing like six no-hit innings to make life easier for everyone. All spring, it seemed like the Yankees were waiting for Nova to step up and claim a spot in the rotation and he finally did it against the Orioles last week. There's no longer any reason to argue against breaking camp with Nova and don't expect to hear any from the Yankees.
Nova had the benefit and detriment of being a wild card against veterans of known ability. The downside is that the Yankees can't be sure what they'll get from him over the long haul, but the upside of his, well, upside won out in the end.
2. Bartolo Colon -- Colon had a strong start on Monday, holding the Rays to one run and two hits over six innings. He also struck out five, giving him 17 strikeouts against just one walk in 15 innings thus far. That's probably better than you could have expected from Colon and his strong form right now makes a strong case for the Yankees riding it as far and as long as possible.
He's outperformed Garcia this spring and he's got better pure stuff to boot. The only concern would be that he's given you all he's got just to make the team, while Garcia is a notoriously slow starter, but we're not talking about a wide gulf between the two of them if that turns out to be true.
3. Garcia -- Right now, the decision for Garcia would seem to be whether to send him to Triple-A, the bullpen or take his chances on the open market. He's said he won't go to the minors, although the Yankees might still prefer to use Sergio Mitre as a long man instead of placing Garcia in a new role at this point in his career. We'd say it's worth the risk, if only because these rotation spots are likely to be team efforts under the best of circumstances.
4. Oliver Perez - Just kidding, although the Yankees do reportedly have an eye on the least popular Mets pitcher since Doug Sisk.