The New York Yankees find themselves in an unusual yet familiar position with a Blue Jays team — a team revivified through key trade deadline moves — on their heels. Instead of fending off Boston in August, however, the Yankees stand to lose the American League East lead to Toronto. Any hope of maintaining their 1.5 game lead over the Blue Jays rests on the laurels of what New York’s often busy front office can pull off in terms of securing a more formidable pitching staff.
Toronto swept the Yankees, perhaps sending a message to owners across the league: we’re ready to compete now, too. When the organization managed to grab Tulowitzki, Price, and Ben Revere, it was like an instant revival for both the lineup and the city of Toronto. But while the perennial hitting squad the Yankees put up may be underperforming right now, they’re not going to forever. In fact, they’re putting Luis Severino and his 97 MPH heat on the mound Tuesday in hopes of halting their three game slide, which could be uplifting if the veterans bring their bats to Cleveland.
Given Yankees starters have managed 5.5 innings per start since August 1, Severino couldn’t do any worse. Cleveland has been tearing up baseballs of late, having put up 80 hits and 45 runs over the last 11 days, good for sixth best during that span. Thankfully, the Yankees won’t face Corey Kluber during their three-game set, but they will see Carrasco and Salazar. It goes without saying Brian Cashman is looking well into September, as more players get added to the revocable waiver list throughout August, so don’t be surprised if something big happens this month in terms of adding pitching depth.
One obvious name circumventing through rumor mills is James Shields, and why not? His tenure in San Diego hasn’t panned out as Padres execs expected, so perhaps changing the venue back to the American League East would help turn Shields around. Sure, he’s known for allowing balls to sail (24 homers allowed), but at this point, he’s still younger than Sabathia. His sizable contract — $63 million still owed — would need to be absorbed by someone, which could end up being the Yankees. Something has to give, or fans will continue to accidentally hit Gardner in the noggin with baseballs.
With Michael Pineda down, Tanaka just starting to become 100 percent, and Ivan Nova taking his sweet time in returning to old form, pitching needs will definitely need addressed sooner rather than later, because in baseball, it doesn’t matter how well these Yankees hit if the other team is hitting better than them.
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