The New York Yankees are stuck on the idea that their World Series hero will come from the free agent or trade market. Sorry, Brian Cashman, but you’re wrong. While Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are the big fish still treading water in the market, the key to championship No. 28 is Sonny Gray.
Yes, the Yankees first line of defense will be Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia, however, to count out the importance of their fifth starter Gray would be foolish. Think, if Cashman really wanted to make a Yankees push for Darvish or Arrieta, it would’ve been handled by now.
The Yankees staff as composed now is more than reliable enough to get the job done. In 2017, the Yankees’ unit ranked 5th in ERA (3.72), 2nd in fewer hits allowed (1248), 4th in runs scored (660), 4th in strikeouts (1560), and tied for first with an opponents BA of.228. What’s not to like about their chances? Let’s not forget that most of these numbers were done with Gray only having 11 starts.
So, before everyone begins to cast aside what he can’t do, just think of the possibilities a cheaper Gray can bring to this rotation. Darvish has proven himself and so has Arrieta, but while most are focusing on their strikeouts, the Yankees must be careful when it comes to the bottom line. According to Spotrac, the Yankees only have two starting pitchers making over $10 million for the 2018 season. Tanaka and Sabathia are the highest paid players in the rotation. Gray will take home a very reasonable $6.5 million. So why spend an extra $15-20 million for Darvish when he’s not needed?
In 2017, for the Los Angles Dodgers, Darvish composed a stat line of a 4-3 record, an ERA of 3.44, 61 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched, but he also had four quality starts in his nine appearances since coming over from Texas. On the Yankees side of the coin, Gray composed a 4-7 record, an ERA of 3.72, 59 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched and six quality starts. Not much of a difference between the two.
What makes Gray more appealing, besides the money, is the fact that Darvish will come in as the No. 2 while Gray is comfortable as the 5th pitcher. Does it matter who the pressure is on? If it does, then Darvish easily fails the test. In the 2017 postseason, Darvish should have lost free agent money with his dismal performance. In four starts, Darvish went 2-2 with an ERA of 6.14 in only 14 innings pitched. Gray was rocked as well in his two starts for the Yankees and ended the postseason with an ERA of 4.32 in eight innings pitched. But still, with similar numbers, why would Cashman shell out a ton of cash for a player who’s no better than his 5th rotation starter?
Let Darvish get all the hype this offseason as teams line up for his services. All the Yankees have to do is stand pat with the rotation they have. Sonny Gray might not be on the short list of Cy Young candidates, but why should the Yankees care? All that matters is No. 28. And, by the numbers, Gray gives them a better shot at that than Yu Darvish.