The New York Yankees' main concern entering their three-game set at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays this week was what they'd get from Freddy Garcia and David Phelps, the replacements of Andy Pettitte (fractured ankle) and CC Sabathia (strained groin), respectively.
In their first turn filling in for the injured left-handers, Garcia and Phelps fared well, holding the Rays to three runs over 9-2/3 innings combined.
Garcia gave up a pair of solo home runs over 5-1/3 innings in Monday's series opener, and in the finale on Wednesday, Phelps, making career start No. 3, struck out eight batters, allowed one run on two hits and three walks, before getting removed with one out in the fifth.
Not bad, especially in the case of Garcia, a reliable starter for the Yankees last season, when he went 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. Phelps' abbreviated outing, though, forced manager Joe Girardi to use his relievers earlier than he'd prefer.
The Yankees, after Phelps' removal, went on to defeat Tampa Bay 4-3, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to avoid getting swept before their four-game set vs. the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend.
Now, even if Phelps is unable to impress Girardi and Co. in his next start, Sabathia's absence won't hurt the Yankees much longer. Sabathia is expected back shortly after the All-Star break, and when he rejoins the Yankees, that will leave them with one spot to fill in their rotation.
Which brings me back to Garcia. The veteran right-hander seems to have benefited from rarely seeing action after getting demoted to the bullpen earlier this season. Garcia's fastball recently is hitting 90 on the gun, and that pitch could pair well with his splitter in the handful of starts he'll make before you hear any chatter about Pettitte getting a rehab assignment.
The Yankees entered spring training with a surplus of starting pitchers, but what Michael Pineda's loss for the season and injuries of Sabathia and Pettitte prove is that no team can have too much depth in that department.