For an explanation of game score, see Baseball-Reference's Play Index Glossary.
Why am I looking only at their most recent outings? Because when a battle is as wide open as the Yankees' situation is, what's happened most recently tends to be weighted more heavily.
Why am I only considering Freddy Garcia's most recent three starts, while looking at the latest four for the other candidates? Because he's only pitched three times since returning from the disabled list on August 29.
What is the meaning of the sub-title of this post? Most blogs I've read recently on the subject—including this one—have already written off A.J. Burnett's chances of making the Yankees' postseason rotation. But, let's face it, the team's management has to be pulling for him, and if he's still being given the opportunity to start games in mid-September, they're not ruling him out yet.
So, let's cut to the chase and size them up based on average game score since August 21:
- Ivan Nova - 59.3
- C.C. Sabathia - 57.5
- Bartolo Colon - 54.8
- A.J. Burnett - 44.5
- Phil Hughes - 43.0
- Freddy Garcia - 37.7 (actually, even if we throw Garcia's August 7 start into the mix, he still ranks last at 41.0)
Nova is looking as close to a lock for one of the remaining three spots as anyone. Will he be the #2 starter come playoff time? Not necessarily, but at this point, it's looking unlikely that he'll fall to #5.
That leaves two spots up for grabs. Colon seems to have the inside track on one of them, but take a look at #4 on this list. While I'm not trying to say that Burnett has pitched his way back into the team's postseason plans, is there any real reason to give Hughes the benefit of the doubt over him? I don't think so, although I'm not ruling him out yet either.
So, unless Garcia can turn things back around after scuffling of late, we could very well be looking at a postseason rotation of Sabathia-Nova-Colon-Burnett.
Of course, this is all speculation, but at this point I still think the competition is wide open and the much-maligned Burnett has at least as good a chance as Hughes and Garcia to earn a couple October starts.