MLB

Can Colon win for Yanks in postseason?

Share This Story

Bob Klapisch

Bob Klapisch covers baseball for The Record in New Jersey and worked at the New York Post and New York Daily News. The author of five books, he was recently voted a top-five columnist in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

MORE>>
   
 

Let’s assume that BaseballProspectus.com has accurately calculated the Yankees’ chances of making the postseason, currently listed at 97.9 percent.

Fast-forward to Game 2 of the Division Series, which Joe Torre used to consider the turning point in any short series.

In past years, the choice was easy: Give the ball to Andy Pettitte, whose maturity and pedigree turned him into an October machine — his 19 postseason victories are the most in major league history. Except for the three years Pettitte was with the Astros, he was a safety net in the Bronx. It'd been that way since 1995, until the trusted left-hander finally retired in February. The Bombers have been searching for a No. 2 starter ever since.

Rival executives consider it the Yankees’ greatest vulnerability — a rotation that’s littered with question marks. After CC Sabathia, how many bullets does Joe Girardi really have?

Incredibly, Bartolo Colon has emerged as the best (and maybe only) option after Sabathia. This is an obvious indictment of A.J. Burnett, but also an endorsement of the former Cy Young Award winner Colon, who after sitting out the 2010 season with shoulder problems is turning into one of the best free-agent signings in recent Yankee history.

The Bombers, in fact, have already gotten a return on their investment with Colon: his 8-6 record and 3.30 ERA have revealed flashes of his 2005 prime. The Yankees have decided this is no longer a fluke; Colon’s efficiency impacted GM Brian Cashman’s calculus at the trading deadline.

When it was time to make a decision on Ubaldo Jimenez — whether to allow the Rockies to pluck Ivan Nova, Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances in exchange — Cashman asked himself who he’d really prefer to have on the mound in Game 2 of the postseason. Jimenez or Colon?

AND WE'RE BACK!

D-backs' resurgence shows beauty of baseball's parity, Tracy Ringolsby says.

The Yankees had been considering Jimenez for weeks, but were also wary enough of his declining velocity to ask for a medical exam prior to a trade. According to the New York Post, GM Dan O’Dowd refused Cashman’s request, which led to an impasse in negotiations.

Turns out, the two executives never spoke again after Wednesday, which is why Cashman said “We were never close” to acquiring Jimenez.

The verdict had been rendered by the Yankees' hierarchy well before Sunday’s deadline. Why take a chance on a pitcher who’d lost 3-4 mph on his fastball, has never been the same since the first half of the 2010 season, had never won a postseason game and, through no fault of his own, has never proved he could handle AL East-type pressure?

Cashman correctly pointed out, “For us, pitching in a sold-out Stadium against the Red Sox, that’s the same thing as the playoffs.” Using that metric, Colon was the better choice, especially since Jimenez would’ve cost the Yankees so much in young talent.

Granted, Colon is not young (38), he’s already thrown more innings this season than at any time since 2005. He’s also a health risk, having been on the DL once this season with hamstring problems. And this recent trend line is troubling to Yankee officials: The AL batted .307 against Colon in July, a 121-point surge over June.

PRIDE OF THE YANKEES

Which pinstripe greats made the list of the best Bronx Bombers ever?

But it’s also true that Colon, when in sync, throws harder than Jimenez — or any of the other Yankee starters, for that matters. He’s topped out at 96-mph, as well as featuring a sharp, lateral-moving two-seam fastball that looks like a screwball on steroids.

One talent evaluator said, “Colon can just about neutralize any left-handed hitter” with that two-seamer, aiming it at the batter’s hip and then guiding over the outside corner.

It’s a more effective weapon than Burnett’s knuckle-curveball, which so often bounces in the dirt, and Phil Hughes’ fastball, which has lost much of its fury. Hughes is down to 91 mph this season, still trying to remake himself as a location specialist after a meteoric rise through the organization as a power pitcher.

Still, it bears repeating: The Yankees are under no illusion about their reliance on Colon. Cashman himself, said, “He’s pitched like a No. 2, but whether he can stay healthy, I can’t guarantee that.”

Yankees at a glance

 
New York Yankees
Looking for the latest on the Yankees? Get the schedule, scores, standings and more right here.
 

One short-term solution is to go to a six-man rotation while Girardi decides between Hughes or Nova for the No. 5 spot. Both will pitch this week, giving Colon an extra few days before he faces the Red Sox at Fenway on Friday.

The audition won’t last long, however, which means Colon will soon be back on a five-day calendar. The right-hander seems up for the task, insisting, “I feel good,” even though he needed 102 pitches to get through five innings against the Orioles on Saturday.

It’s little blips like that that make the Yankees nervous. Cashman, however, is convinced he made the right choice passing on Jimenez. Alex Rodriguez will soon return from the disabled list, and with Montero and Manny Banuelos soon to be called up from Class-AAA, the GM believes he emerged from the trading deadline with the best of both worlds — an intact roster, and a farm system that will pay dividends very quickly.

But that still doesn’t address October’s biggest question: Who gets the ball after Sabathia? As of today, it’s Colon or bust, which is another way for the Yankees to say: Our fingers are crossed.

Tagged: Phil Hughes, Indians, Yankees, Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia, Ubaldo Jimenez

More Stories From Bob Klapisch

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..