By Lenn Robbins
If playoff baseball was about offense the Yankees wouldn’t have a care in the world. But it’s not. It’s about pitching. Always has been. Always will be.
As the Yankees begin their quest for a 41st American League pennant and 28th World Series championship, look for GM Brian Cashman to add at least one starting pitching before the July 31 trade deadline.
Cashman already went after Dallas Keuchel who signed with the Braves. But there are other – and possibly better – options.
“I’d love to add pitching if I can,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters in London. “Whether it’s bullpen, rotation. Just reinforce our pitching, and get our pitching that’s hurt healthy, and then have the pitching we currently have stay healthy.”
Now, about those options.
Trevor Bauer: What’s not to like? He’s 28 and under club control until the end of the 2020 season. He leads the majors with 132 innings pitched. He’s having a terrific season (3.61 ERA, 149 K’s, 51 walks).
Makes you wonder why the Indians, who are a season-high 12 games above .500 and have gotten within five and one-half games of the Twins, would trade him. The Indians are pitching rich and the Yankees are prospects rich.
The question, of course, is which prospects or current players, would the Yankees be willing to give in any trade. Which leads us to Detroit’s Matthew Boyd. Boyd, 28, is having a breakout season with a 3.87 ERA (4.84 for his career) with 142 strikeouts and just 20 walks. Wow. He’s under club control until 2022. Wow. Wow.
So, what’s the hangup? The Tigers know exactly what they have and the asking price might be too high. The New York Post reported in late-June that the Yankees and Tigers discussed a Boyd for Gleyber Torres deal. Can’t imagine the Yankees pulling that trigger. If you’re Detroit, might as well ask for the moon and go from there.
Madison Bumgarner has been a postseason stud, as long as he stays off his dirt bike.
Bumgarner, 29, has established himself as one of the best postseason pitchers in history, winning MVP honors in the 2014 World Series and NLCS. He’s pitched in a big market. It’s hard to imagine Bumgarner having trouble pitching in New York. In fact, according to The Atheltic, the Yankees are one of the teams he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.
He turns 30 at the end of the month and is a free agent after the season. The Giants have been horrible since 2016 and need some major rebuilding. Bumgarner has a ‘For Sale’ on his back.
Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays is another option. The Long Island native is having one of his best seasons, with an ERA of 3.18.
Stroman, 28, would be under the Yankees control until after the 2020-21 season, making him very attractive, and potentially very expensive to get. He hasn’t pitched since suffering a pectoral cramp on June 29. A lot of teams will be watching when he makes his first start of the second half.
“I’ve come to terms with it,” Stroman recently told reporters about a possible trade. “It doesn’t change what I am doing in the moment. It doesn’t change that I am trying to win as many games as possible for the Toronto Blue Jays. I actually do love playing for the organization and the country. I am focused in on the moment. And what happens happens. That is my mantra right now.”
The last name the Yankees have interest in might make the biggest splash in town. Mets starter Zach Wheeler reportedly has been on the trading block. Would the Mets help the Yankees win a pennant? Sports talk radio would have a field day if this trade got done.
Wheeler, 29, threw 182.1 innings last season and already has thrown 119 this season. His ERA (4.69) is a little high but he has 130 strikeouts and just 34 walks. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season but that has never stopped the Yankees. Obviously, Wheeler can pitch in the Big Apple.