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.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.