There’s nothing but uncertainty behind CC Sabathia(notes) in the New York Yankees’ rotation, but perhaps Bartolo Colon’s(notes) latest start was an indication he’s ready to be in the mix to be the club’s No. 2 postseason starter.
He certainly won’t be if his performance down the stretch resembles his last outing in Toronto.
Colon didn’t make it out of the first inning when he took the mound at Rogers Centre two months ago, but a strong start last week should have him feeling good heading into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with the Blue Jays.
The Yankees (90-59) have plenty of questions in their rotation behind Sabathia, so much so that rookie Ivan Nova(notes) - who’s 7-0 with a 3.32 ERA over the past six weeks - may be the best candidate to follow the former Cy Young Award winner in the playoffs.
But Colon (8-9, 3.55 ERA) has postseason experience - albeit, none since 2005 - and looked like someone New York might be able to rely upon in his latest outing. The right-hander held the Angels to one unearned run and six hits over seven innings on Sept. 9, leaving without a decision in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss.
“He had really good late movement on his fastball, and that’s when he’s really good,” catcher Russell Martin(notes) told the team’s official website of Colon, 0-3 with a 4.19 ERA in his last seven starts. “He was locating that pitch really well. He looked as good as he has all year today.”
Colon gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings Sept. 3 against Toronto, but he really didn’t have anything working the last time he faced the Blue Jays north of the border. In the Yankees’ first game following the All-Star break, Colon only recorded two outs, surrendering six hits and eight runs - three earned - in a 16-7 rout.
He’s 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in his other three starts versus Toronto in 2011, but he should have a few factors working in his favor Saturday. Colon has a 2.96 ERA away from Yankee Stadium - 1.28 lower than his home ERA - and is 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA during the day.
New York, meanwhile, is 39-11 in afternoon games - a .780 winning percentage that will be the best in baseball history if it goes 4-2 in its final six during the day. Closer Mariano Rivera(notes), who will tie Trevor Hoffman(notes) for the all-time saves lead (601) with his next one, already has saved more games (211) than anyone in the afternoon.
Rivera didn’t get a chance to pitch Friday. Sabathia surrendered a 3-1 cushion by giving up three runs in the fifth inning, and the Blue Jays (76-74) eventually walked off with a 5-4 victory on Jose Molina’s(notes) run-scoring single.
“I thought when we got the 3-1 lead we were going to win that game,” manager Joe Girardi said after New York’s AL East lead slipped to 3 1/2 games with Boston’s victory over Tampa Bay.
The Yankees will get their first look at Henderson Alvarez(notes) (1-2, 3.09), who’s pitched well so far against the rest of the AL East. After throwing 14 scoreless innings against Baltimore and Boston on Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, the righty gave up three runs over seven innings and left without a decision last Saturday in a 5-4 win over the Orioles.
“He did an outstanding job once again,” manager John Farrell said.