The Yankees have an obvious top three in their starting pitching rotation in CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. We know that. Behind those three, however, things get a bit murky. There's a handful of relatively uninspiring candidates vying for the last two spots -- including names like Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre.
Garcia does appear to be separating himself from the group, though, and he is the favorite for the fourth spot, according to SI.com 's Jon Heyman.
Garcia, 35, was a two-time All-Star early in his career for Seattle and then a solid starter for the White Sox for two years. In fact, he was part of the historic chain of World Series shutouts for the South Siders in 2005, throwing seven shutout innings and garnering the win in series-clinching Game 4.
He was in danger of falling out of the league for good at several points throughout the 2007-2009 seasons, but caught on with the White Sox again. He started 37 games for the Sox over the past two seasons, going 15-10 with a 4.56 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
If Garcia does lock down the fourth spot, the Yankees' question marks in the staff hardly disappear. There's still that five spot, not to mention the questions that come with Hughes and Burnett.
The 24-year-old Hughes was an All-Star last season, but faltered down the stretch. After starting 10-1 with a 3.17 ERA, Hughes went 8-7 with a 5.07 ERA the rest of the way. That could be due to normal fatigue for a youngster or teams' advanced scouting catching up to Hughes' stuff.
Burnett was flat awful for most of last season. He ended with a career worst 5.26 ERA and a dreadful 1.51 WHIP. His record was 10-15, and this for a team that won 95 games. There's no question Burnett has talent, and at age 34 he should still have some gas left in the tank. He just needs to get back on track.
As for the fifth spot in the rotation, Heyman reports it's "anyone's guess."
-- Matt Snyder
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