If the Yankees made some radical changes to their batting line up in July with the departure of Carlos Beltran that was nothing to the way that they changed their pitching staff around.
Let’s recap… At the end of last year, the Yankees signed Aroldis Chapman for 4 minor league prospects including Caleb Cotham who had seen some action in the Majors in 2015. Now, Cotham has hardly set the world alight since joining the Cincinnati Reds (0-3, 7.40 ERA) but even so Chapman was a controversial signing. He was being investigated under the Major Leagues’ domestic violence ruling, was likely to be suspended and anyway, he was a closer – and the Yankees had one of the finest closers in all baseball, in 2015, in Andrew Miller.
Chapman seemed somewhat surplus to requirements and was a free agent at the end of 2016. But it still came as a surprise when the Yankees traded away both him and Miller – leaving their much vaunted 7-8-9 innings trio to be just Dellin Betances who is now the closer. Then, they gave up Ivan Nova for the infamous “player to be named later” (two of them). In separate deals, they also signed Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard who are most notable for both having played for the Yankees before and being traded away for players that were then regarded as an upgrade.
|New York Yankees – Pitching – Month – July|
Now there is no question that the Yankees have now a well-stocked farm system with lots of prospects, but not every prospect comes to fruition. Let’s see how the current incumbents are doing.
Of the 5 regular starters, Masahiro Tanaka was the pick of the bunch during the month of July. In June, he had been 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA. In July, he was 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA, a substantial improvement. The main worry for the Yankees is that Tanaka may opt out of his contract after 2017 – a much more realistic possibility as the chances of winning anything are now firmly somewhere off in the distance.
Nathan Eovaldi continued to be inconsistent but had a 3-2 record on the month. Ivan Nova is now in the Yankees’ past but it should be noted that in July there was nothing to separate his record from Eovaldi’s and he produced better than either Pineda or Sabathia. Michael Pineda was also inconsistent but CC Sabathia is a bigger problem. It is not too long ago that he was being talked about as the Yankees best performing starter – now he is consistently the worst and it looks like the Yankees will have to pick up the option on his 2017 contact as he has met the vesting requirements so far.
Chad Green has had a good month and is now settling into his role as a starter and looks likely to be the guy to replace Nova on a regular basis. This is some achievement. He was behind Luis Cessa at the beginning of the year in terms of expectations for the future but some great work at Scranton and steady appearances in the Bigs has changed all that.
So with Miller and Chapman on their way out then who was there going to be there to close the gap. Adam Warren began his second stint as a Yankee with a couple of very good performances and Tyler Clippard is due his first time on the mound since his return.
Elsewhere, though there was less good news. Conor Mullee made a good appearance in the first game of the month but then went on the disabled list with what was described as carpal tunnel-like symptoms. Chasen Shreve had one of his better stints in pinstripes when he was recalled on the 5th of July but the Yankees desperately need to see this kind of consistency from him over a much longer period if they are going to continue to persist with him. Nick Goody was busy putting together a very good WHIP % when he was surprisingly optioned back to Scranton on the 21st.
Richard Bleier and Anthony Swarzak are a pair of journeymen who have seen more time in the Majors this year than they may have anticipated themselves but that time may be coming to an end as the Yankees are giving youth its head. If they do find themselves losing out, however, they will only have themselves to blame. Bleier’s ERA was 4.50 on the month whilst Swarzak’s ballooned to 6.75 in July. It is difficult to see them being around for much longer if that continues.
Luis Cessa only played one game in the month and it didn’t go well but he really needs an extended run at the club for a proper evaluation.
Both Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman produced good figures but as we have seen this would only serve to increase their trade value. The Yankees must now be concerning themselves with the likes of Dellin Betances and Luis Severino. It was good to see Severino back from the minors albeit in a relief role. Indeed, there is some evidence that suggests that this might be his long-term role. As a starter, he is struggling to find an effective third pitch – looking mostly to his change-up which his opponents are starting to find predictable. As a reliever, he can get away more with his 2 main pitches and his two appearances that followed his recall produced an ERA of 0.00 and .50 WHIP. Betances, as always, is good the vast majority of the time but August will see him being asked to adapt to a different role. I, for one, don’t think it will take him long to acclimatise.