Arms Race

In yesterday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Sergio
Mitre pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while striking
out three batters.

That outing increased Mitre’s scoreless innings total to
five on the spring.

While Joe Girardi is a long way from deciding who the
Yankees fifth starter will be, Mitre’s impressive performance thus far gives
the skipper another legitimate candidate — in addition to Joba Chamberlain,
Phil Hughes and Chad Gaudin.

Mitre’s presence also underscores a fact that will prove to
be beneficial as the long season moves along: The Yankees pitching staff is as
deep as any in Major League Baseball.

Besides CC Sabathia, A.J Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javier
Vazquez (who won a combined 61 games in 2009), the Yankees have four pitchers
competing for one remaining starting spot. The three pitchers that don’t earn
the fifth spot in the rotation are going to provide the Yankees with an
iron-clad bullpen — which they didn’t have last season until Hughes emerged as an
eighth inning dominator.

Speaking of Vazquez, he just tossed two innings of one hit
ball against the powerful Philadelphia Phillies lineup at George M.
Steinbrenner Field. The one hit was a first-inning home run off the bat of
Jimmy Rollins, but Vazquez came back to strike out four batters — in only two
innings.

While Vazquez was blowing the ball past Phillies hitters,
Afredeo Aceves pitched four perfect innings in a split-squad game against the
Pittsburgh Pirates. Aceves, who compiled a 10-1 record in 2009, is more likely
to end up in the bullpen than the aforementioned pitchers, but if he continues
to throw the ball the way he did today, you never know where he’ll end up.

For Girardi, it’s a great problem to have.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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