The Yankees are in the playoffs and Bartolo Colon is joining them, possibly in Game Three in a visiting ballpark during the ALDS.
The question is what can the Yankees expect from someone who appears to be running on fumes?
For the Yankees’ sake, they hope it won’t be as awful as the three-inning display by Colon during last night’s 15-8 loss to the Rays.
Colon allowed seven runs and seven hits, giving up a two-run home run to B.J. Upton along the way, while making infrequent use of his two-seam fastball. The two-seam fastball is the one that made him so successful most of the first half and accounted for most of his 73 called strikeouts coming into last night.
“He wasn’t real sharp, it looked like he made some mistakes in the middle of the plate tonight and his location wasn’t there,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Colon’s comeback after not pitching in two years as been surprising, but as his innings workload increases to levels not seen since he was a Cy Young Award winner in 2005 for the Angels, his effectiveness has come and gone.
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“When we went into this year, we weren’t sure how many innings we could get out of home,” Girardi said. “There is some concern and we’ll continue to evaluate as we move forward.”
That means they will see what others can do this weekend against Boston. Freddy Garcia’s audition comes tonight, weather permitting. A.J. Burnett, an unlikely playoff starter, goes Saturday and Phil Hughes possibly gets his audition next week in Tampa Bay.
“I’m not worried about that at all,” Colon said. “I’m just worried about being in the playoffs and whatever decision they make, I will accept that.”
The decision could be contingent on the effectiveness of the two-seam fastball. His nine two-seam fastballs Thursday were 19 fewer than last weekend’s four-inning start in Toronto.
It also was the second time that he threw fewer than 10 two-seam fastballs during a nine start stretch that has seen Colon go 0-4 with an 5.58 ERA since July 30.
“His location and some movement and it is some velocity as well [causing his struggles],” Girardi said. “That’s why there’s some concern as well.”
Colon said that he does not check the velocity readings that appear on the scoreboard, but is also confident those things will return based on his showing in Anaheim when he took a no-decision after allowing one run and six hits in seven innings.
“No question,” Colon said. “When I pitched against Anaheim, I threw the ball and had the movement and velocity. There’s no question that I’m going to get it back.”
Colon’s lack of effectiveness was not the only problem in a largely meaningless game for the AL East champions. The Yankees started four regulars a night after clinching, but even with a full lineup they did not have much of a chance against rookie Matt Moore.
Moore made his first career start and throttled a lineup that contained the likes of Eduardo Nunez, Brandon Laird and Greg Golson. He pitched five shutout innings and struck out 11. He generated 15 swings and misses while throwing mostly four-seam fastballs that averaged 94 mph.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.