After Freddy Garcia's fiasco of a start on Saturday, he sounded exasperated. As Joe Girardi discussed Garcia's brief outing, the manager sounded puzzled. Those reactions explained how everyone involved with the Yankees felt, too.
Even before Garcia was drubbed for six earned runs in a 7-5 loss to the Tigers, he was close to losing his fragile spot in the rotation. Now it might finally be lost.
The Yankees can't keep starting a pitcher with a 12.51 earned run average and a pitcher who has allowed opponents to bat .403 against him. Basically, Garcia has turned everyone into the equivalent of Ted Williams, circa 1941, this season.
While Girardi didn't say whether Garcia would make another start, he offered enough evidence to indicate that the pitcher will be bypassed. Girardi noted how Garcia's velocity has decreased on all of his pitches and how his pitches don't have their typical sharpness. Teams are taking pitches against Garcia early in counts, causing him to fall behind and further inhibiting his ability to exploit them with his splitter or slider.
"Freddy knows what's going on," Girardi said at one point, which seemingly meant that Garcia knows he is in a precarious spot.
If the Yankees decide to jettison Garcia from the rotation, there's an easy way for them to set up their pitching. The Yankees could start David Phelps against the Royals on May 3, which is the next time Garcia's spot in the rotation comes up. Phelps tossed three scoreless innings on Saturday and has a 3.57 E.R.A. Right now, he would give the Yankees a better chance to win than Garcia.
After that start on May 3, the Yankees can utilize an off day on May 7 to insure that they won't need that spot in the rotation again until May 12. By then, Andy Pettitte will have made two more minor league starts and would presumably be ready to return to the Yankees.
Since Garcia has notched just five outs in each of his last two starts, it makes sense to give him a break and give Phelps a start. If Phelps pitches well, he could even end up staying in the rotation because Phil Hughes has also struggled.
When Girardi fielded questions about Garcia's future, he said he needed "to sleep on it" before making any decisions. With or without the extra sleep, Girardi knows that he can't keep starting a pitcher who is that ineffective and who taxes his bullpen. That will only lead to more exasperation and more puzzlement.