The Yankees had a difficult month on the pitching front with some of the stalwarts they had depended on all year suddenly losing form. Let’s see who came to the forefront and who was added to the corps to keep the machine a-running:
|New York Yankees 2018 – Pitching – Month – July|
The fact that the Yankees used 8 different starters in the month of July was a sign that whilst things were still relatively positive, not everything was going to plan.
Chief amongst these were the problems being encountered by the staff ace and its new junior member.
Firstly, Luis Severino. Severino had won 12 games through June but could only add 2 to that total in the seventh month of the year, along with 2 losses and 1 no-decision. More pertinently, his ERA on the month ballooned to 6.58 and his WHIP to a remarkably high 1.62.
There had been all kinds of encouraging signs from Jonathan Loaisiga when he made the leap from Double-A Trenton Thunder to the Majors in the middle of June. By the beginning of July that optimism was looking a mite premature with his one July start ending with him giving up 3 runs on 5 hits in 4 innings. Consequently, a reassignment to a new home at Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Railriders was necessary just a few days into the month.
Someone else who had begun to struggle majorly was Domingo German who until now had been maintaining a steady if not spectacular pace in the starting rotation stakes. July saw him produce an unpleasant pair of team-worst ERA and WHIP. Across 4 games as a starter, he gave up 14 runs for a very bad ERA of 7.00.
CC Sabathia saw things also take a turn for worse at times in July. A good outing at Yankee Stadium against the Atlanta Braves was followed by two not so good dates on the road when the team was visiting Baltimore and Cleveland. 13 runs in twenty-one plus innings wasn’t the Yankees biggest problem but it didn’t bring them much comfort either.
Sonny Gray has been working at giving the Yankees a reason to either drop him from the rotation or look for a trade and July didn’t help his cause. Indeed, prior to the non-waiver trading deadline, there was talk of trying to move him to a smaller market club to see if he could regain the sort of form he showed when he was with the Oakland A’s. However, even though it is easy to be negative about him, his performances in July at least balanced the good with the bad. Indeed, after only surviving 2 innings against Toronto in his first start of the month, he had a great outing on the 11th against Baltimore – only then to struggle when his turn came around again versus the Mets. But then he came up with another exemplary outing against Kansas City. Go figure!
Complete game pitching performances aren’t common ground for the Yankees’ pitching staff or even for any team in pro baseball, but Masahiro Tanaka produced one in July. Pitching at Tampa Bay on the 24th, he held the Rays to three hits and one walk in a shutout game. The first half of the month hadn’t been quite so hot, but he continued the trend in his final start pitching to the Orioles at the Stadium with another great outing.
Luis Cessa has spent most of the season bouncing back-and-forth between the majors and the minors and in July the Yankees found time to give him two starts. And after struggling in his last June start he rebounded to perform well on the July road trip.
Last of the starters we’ll mention is perhaps the most important as he is a new arrival. J.A. Happ came in from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Billy McKinney (2 apps this year for the Yankees and a .250 batting average) and Brandon Drury (17 apps, .176 BA for the Yankees). This trade looked even better when Drury broke his hand after only a fistful of games for the Blue Jays. Happ was slotted straight into the rotation with Cessa being the unfortunate guy heading back to Scranton. Happ’s debut was just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Yankee starting rotation giving up only 1 run in 6 innings against the Kansas City Royals.
Dellin Betances had a particularly rough time earlier in the season but he has really turned things around. After giving up no runs in June, he followed up with only giving up one run in 10 appearances in July. The Yankees will be very grateful that at least that part of the principal spine of the bullpen is back in full working order.
Elsewhere, there have been a few awkward twists-and-turns. The usually untouchable pair of Chad Green (7th inning) and Aroldis Chapman (closer) are wobbling. Green came through the month with a 4.91 ERA whilst Chapman’s 4.50 was not good enough in a month when the starters were also not themselves. Chapman had some good outings, but his occasional struggles were highlighted in a game against crosstown rival, the Mets where Aroldis gave up three runs as he was unable to get anyone out and gave up a hit and a startling 3 walks.
David Robertson was also below par, giving up 5 earned runs, on 7 hits, in 11 innings of work.
Jonathan Holder has been pretty faultless since he returned to the majors after a short stint at Scranton in April which was intended to correct his mechanics after some early season struggles. However, the last couple of games in July will have given the Yankees pause for thought as he didn’t look his best.
A.J. Cole, who has pretty much seemed like the 25th man on the Yankees roster, saw a little more time on the mound this month and showed himself to be a trustworthy arm. He produced a WHIP of .90 across 10 innings in 7 games and he is pushing for more time.
And then we come to “them changes” – with the deadline approaching the Yankees needed to shore up some things and they decided to swap some things around in the hope of doing so. Out went undependable left-hander Chasen Shreve (hooray!!), Giovanny Gallegos who seems fast headed for journeyman status and Adam Warren (that made me sad) who seemed largely to be filling a similar role to David Robertson but slightly less effectively.
Also, perhaps coming to end of his Yankees’ road is David Hale who finally chose free agency rather than another return to Scranton. Sadly, there have been no takers so far, so anything could happen from here on in.
Incomers? Zach Britton from Baltimore in exchange for three minor leaguers: Cody Carroll; Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate. Britton is likely to be a huge upgrade on Shreve who went to the Cardinals along with Gallegos when the Yankees gained Luke Voit.
Also arriving at the deadline was Lance Lynn who moved from the Minnesota Twins with 1st baseman Tyler Austin, who had wasted his last opportunity with the Yankees, going the other way. Lynn will either end up as a starter or reliever as he goes into direct competition with Sonny Gray for those spots.
Around briefly while all these transitions were taking place were left-hander Ryan Bollinger on his second call-up of the year and right-handed prospect Domingo Acevedo who made the leap from double-A Trenton Thunder. Neither actually made it into a game. Acevedo is now back at Trenton as is Bollinger.