Considering the lack of talent remaining on the free agent and trade markets, we all knew it would come to this.
“The Yankees among the teams looking at Kevin Millwood as a back-end starter and have also looked at Freddy Garcia.”
Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Last season, Millwood was absolutely brutal for the Orioles going 4-16 with a 4.86 FIP (5.10 ERA) and 1.3 fWAR. With most of his key peripherals (GB/FB ratio, contact rate, strikeout rate) trending in the wrong direction, there’s not a lot of hope for him turning it around in his age-36 season. Still, Millwood is a solid innings eater that can be relied upon to pitch between 170-190 innings next year, while providing 1-2 wins above the replacement level.
Freddy Garcia, despite a shiny 12-6 record, put together a season on par with Millwood’s posting a 4.77 FIP, 1.3 fWAR, and similar K/9 and BB/9 rates. Unlike Millwood, Garcia, 34, can’t be considered a solid innings eater. After enduring a few shoulder injuries and disappointing comeback attempts, 2010 was the first time Garcia had exceeded the 150 innings mark since 2006. Additionally, Garcia has always been the type of pitcher that relies on his strong secondary pitches as opposed to his fastball. As such, he has a tendency to hang the ball up in the zone, which leads to higher than expected home run totals. That trend has become more pronounced as his batted ball numbers have skewed more towards fly balls in recent seasons. As a right-handed fly ball pitcher, he’ll likely have trouble limiting home runs in lefty friendly ballparks (like Yankees Stadium), or against lefty-heavy lineups (like the Red Sox).
If I had to choose between the two pitchers, I would probably go with Millwood because he’s more durable, and has a better track record of keeping the ball inside the park. Also, he’d serve as a considerable upgrade over Sergio Mitre, who is a replacement level starter at best. It’s not an ideal situation, but it could end up being a shrewd move for the Yankees depending on the type of contract Millwood demands.