To the surprise of no one, the Yankees remain in the market for rotation help leading up to the trade deadline, reports Jon Heyman. Joel Sherman says they again had a scout at Johnny Cueto’s most recent start earlier this week, when he thew a shutout against the Nationals. The Yanks have been scouting him (and teammate Mike Leake) since at least last month.
Coming into today, New York’s rotation had a 4.30 ERA (3.80 FIP) on the season, which puts them in the lower third of the league. That includes Adam Warren’s work as a starter (3.59 ERA and 4.12 FIP), and he’s in the bullpen now, so the five starters currently in the rotation have been less effective than that 4.30 ERA indicates. Besides, there’s always room for improvement.
The trade deadline is three weeks and one day away now, and the market is developing really slowly this summer. By this date last year guys like Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, and Brandon McCarthy had all been traded already. (Monday was the one-year anniversary of the McCarthy deal.) Mark Trumbo is the biggest name to have been dealt so far this year. That’ll change soon though.
Only six teams are more than six games out of a postseason spot right now — 12 of the 15 AL teams are within six games of a postseason spot! — so clubs are reluctant to sell. They want to stay in the hunt as long as possible and keep fans interested deep into August and September. Who can blame them? Unfortunately it makes for a dull few weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
The Yankees prefer rentals, and in addition to Cueto and Leake, other rental starters include Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Bartolo Colon, Mat Latos, Ian Kennedy, and Kyle Lohse. Colon and Lohse have been ineffective this year, Kazmir left last night’s start with a triceps injury, and Kennedy has somehow allowed 18 home runs in 80 innings while playing in spacious Petco Park and various other pitcher friendly NL West parks. Cueto’s the cream of the crop, clearly.
CC Sabathia had his knee drained a few days ago for the second time this season and other starters like Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) carry perpetual injury concerns. Ivan Nova is just coming from Tommy John surgery too. Nathan Eovaldi’s the only starter without some kind of known physical concern. So exploring the market for rotation help is a no-brainer move for the Yankees. The AL East is so very winnable and you don’t have to try to hard to envision a scenario where rotation help is needed down the stretch.
(GIF via MLB.com)