Commentary

No kidding: Yanks need carefree Colon

Bartolo and Freddy Garcia have given rotation great cover, but can they keep it up?

Updated: July 14, 2011, 11:26 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Bartolo Colon acts like everything he is doing is no sweat. Even limited by not speaking English, his relaxed personality comes through in the clubhouse, like a man who doesn't have a care in the world.

Before his Subway Series start against the Mets at Citi Field, on the way to his locker, he tapped a reporter on the back of his shoulder before zooming by with the mischievousness of a sixth grader. The only thing he didn't say was, "Made you look!"

[+] EnlargeBartolo Colon
AP Photo/Paul J. BereswillHow will the second half of the season treat Bartolo Colon?

Colon has made everyone look. He showed up to Tampa looking like he had been training to beat Takeru Kobayashi in Coney Island rather than earn a trip to the Bronx.

And now here we all are, familiar with his miraculous fat and stem cell surgery and the way he has pitched thus far. Colon is 6-4 with a 3.20 ERA and is one of the biggest reasons the Yankees have the same number of losses as the Red Sox.

He and fellow old timer Freddy Garcia have offered protection for the disappearance of Phil Hughes, but now the second half beckons.

Colon will throw the first post-All-Star pitch for the Yankees on Thursday. Which -- when you think about Colon smiling in the spring about needing to lose 25 pounds -- is still accurately described as miraculous. Especially since those 25 pounds have not been shed.

If this Yankees second half and postseason are going to be special, Hughes might have to be the guy who can be the legit third playoff starter. That is supposed to be his role. However, there has been no evidence that he is ready to do that.

This could leave it up to Colon and Garcia. Colon hasn't pitched this much since 2005. In the past six years, Colon has made a grand total of nine starts after the All-Star break -- and hasn't won any of them.

He's 0-5 with a 5.51 ERA. And these numbers were posted before Colon started injecting his own fat and stem cells into his arm. But they are real -- and real scary for the Yankees.

Garcia might not provide Colon or Hughes cover, either. Last year, Garcia averaged six innings and a 4.36 ERA per start in the first half. He struck out 5.6 batters per nine innings.

After the 2010 break, Garcia averaged just five innings per start and his ERA rose to 5.10. His strikeouts dropped to 4.4 per nine innings. He gave up more homers (one every six innings, compared to one every 7.5).

So how much longer can Colon and Garcia keep it up?

Garcia hasn't shown signs of waning -- 7-6 with a 3.13 ERA -- just yet. But if the past predicts the future, the Yankees might have already seen the best of Colon and Garcia.

It might be left to Hughes or Ivan Nova -- who is currently waiting in Triple-A -- to pick up the old guard's slack. Especially with the market for a big-time starters looking bleak.

Colon throws the opening pitch of the second half with one thing clear: He is not going to sweat it.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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