If you went to Vegas and wagered a small amount that the Yankees would win with a back end of the rotation featuring Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, here’s hoping you cashed in significantly.
Believe it or not, the Yankees went into this season as “underdogs,” even with a $200 million payroll, because they lost out on Cliff Lee, watched Boston snag Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and settled for two pitchers who had not done much recently.
If there’s any reason that can explain the Yankees taking the AL’s second-best record into the All-Star break it is the performances of those veterans, who have been revelations on a pitching staff with a 3.46 ERA.
Garcia and Colon have combined for 13 victories, doing so with different methods.
Garcia has succeeded mostly on “smoke and mirrors,” which has seen him throw a slow fastball to go along with an array of off-speed pitching.
Colon recently returned from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three weeks and for most of his 12 starts pumped in one fastball after another with precision. That was not evident last week against Tampa Bay, so it is natural wonder to if that will happen more often.
Besides the revelations of Garcia and Colon, CC Sabathia has been everything expected and even better with his last few starts, A.J. Burnett has been improved from last year’s disaster thanks to a changeup but Yankee fans still struggle believing in him in a big spot and Phil Hughes is returning from an arm injury that significantly dropped his velocity.
The results from the first half lead you to believe that Garcia and Colon will continue or pitch somewhat similar to those performances. If they don’t or get hurt Ivan Nova and his curveball are in the minors and they could always make a low-level trade such as 2005, but the Yankees are gambling it won’t come to that.
Follow Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.