Freddy Garcia is likely to land the Yankees’ fifth starter job

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So far this spring Bartolo Colon has pitched way better than Freddy Garcia has, with the former having a better ERA, allowing fewer hits, striking out more guys and only walking one in 15 innings of work.  But as you so often hear this time of year, spring stats should all but be ignored. The Yankees are ignoring them, George King reports in the New York Post, as they are leaning heavily toward naming Garcia the team’s fifth starter.

What it comes down to for Joe Girardi is health and durability. Yes, Colon looks good now, but he also didn’t pitch last year. The sharpness may be the result of playing winter ball, but maybe he runs out of gas soon after the season starts. Garcia, in contrast, is nothing if not durable.  Not mentioned, but also worth noting, is that Garcia suggested earlier in spring training that he’d not be inclined to be a relief pitcher, so the Yankees making him a starter may allow them to keep both Colon and Garcia, perhaps making Colon a long man.

As I’ve said in the past, championships tend not to be won or lost on the strength of fifth starters. Even in the rare instances where a team does use one guy as the fifth starter all year, that guy tends not to be anything special. The Yankees will likely be fine with Garcia. Or Colon. Or both. Or those two and two other guys splitting starts.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.