By Lenn Robbins
The Yankees are possibly winning the battle against the Twins but probably will lose the playoff war if they don’t add a quality starter by the July 31 deadline.
The Yankees and Twins split the first two game of their series in Minneapolis. The Yankees staged two thrilling comebacks Tuesday night capped by Aaron Hicks’ you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it catch to win the second game. A win Wednesday night against the Central Division leaders certainly wouldn’t hurt.
But it won’t be nearly enough to get the Yankees to the Playoff Promised Land because the starting pitching (and at times the relief pitching) was south of dreadful. Like South Pole.
C.C. Sabathia, a crafty veteran and consummate pro, showed he’s clearly playing the back nine by giving up seven runs (six earned), two walks and four home runs in five innings of an 8-6 loss.
The Twins pummeled Yankee pitching for five home runs on eight hits and three walks.
Domingo German, showed why it’s not wise to count on a rookie in the playoffs, regardless of how well his first season is going, by giving up nine runs (eight earned) two walks and three home runs in just three and two-third innings of a 14-12 win on Tuesday night.
The Twins clobbered Yankee pitching for four home runs on 15 hits and issued eight walks.
For those keeping score, that’s nine home runs, 20 runs and 11 walks in the first two games.
Let’s not forget that Luis Severino, who has yet to pitch this season, certainly can’t be counted on in September and October. And German is the only pitcher with double-digit wins (12-2).
Masahiro Tanaka (7-5) has been the workhorse with 117 innings pitched. J.A. Happ (8-5) has been inconsistent, pitching 110 innings but giving up 21 home runs. James Paxton (5-5), the big offseason acquisition, has had major trouble getting the first out of innings, mostly on account of issuing a team-high 35 walks.
As this roster in comprised, the Yankees resemble the 1975 Reds, who didn’t have a pitcher with more than 15 wins but had a relentless lineup. The Yankees may not have a 15-game winner but they’re batting savages.
Don’t think for a second that the Giants (Madison Bumgarner), Tigers (Mathew Boyd), Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), and possibly Indians (Trevor Bauer) haven’t noted the Yankees need for starting pitching.
Cashman is not known for making panic-driven decisions. But the Yankees of 2019 have been built for one reason – win the World Series. The Red Sox went all in last year. The Yankees are all in this year. Cashman might have to throw in a chip he would have preferred to hold and he surely knows it.
He didn’t invest more than $66 million in the bull pen via free agency to win a pennant. He didn’t include top prospect Justus Sheffield in a package for Paxton to win the AL East. And he didn’t bolster an already potent lineup by acquiring Edwin Encarnacion (for pitching prospect Juan Then) to grab a Wild Card.
Whether the Yankees win or lose this series is a footnote. What happens between now and July 31st is a headline.