When the clock struck midnight (or technically 4 pm) on the trade deadline at the end of July, many Yankee fans were left with a strong sense of “meh.” Brian Cashman certainly made his fair share of moves, but given the underwhelming crop of available starting pitchers and a strong desire to remain under the luxury tax threshold, the Yanks opted to make a flurry of minor moves to solidify a playoff spot for the second straight season.
At least two of those deadline moves don’t seem so underwhelming anymore. The Yankees acquired starting pitchers J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn for Tyler Austin, Brandon Drury, Billy McKinney and minor league righty Luis Rijo. Given the injury to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton’s tight hamstring, the Yankees could use McKinney at this moment, but the pieces they got in return are proving incredibly valuable at this point.
Happ twirled another gem in the Bronx on Tuesday night, tossing seven scoreless innings while allowing just one hit against the Rays. He walked four batters, but worked around it to get the Yankees a win in the series opener. It was the third quality start for Happ in as many outings in pinstripes, with each start occurring in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. In short, Happ has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for in the early going.
Meanwhile, Lynn has been just as effective, allowing just one run over his first 16 2⁄3 innings as a Yankee. He’s also racked up 22 strikeouts in that span, including 17 in his first two starts.
J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn With Yankees:— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) August 15, 2018
The efficiency by the two newest additions to the starting rotation could not be coming at a better time for the Yankees, who are dealing with plenty of questions as the regular season approaches the stretch run. CC Sabathia is currently on the DL after wisely deciding to give his nagging knee a breather, while Luis Severino looks like he could probably use a rest of his own, as he turned in another bad outing against the lowly Mets on Monday night. That leaves Happ, Lynn and Masahiro Tanaka as the only stable arms in the rotation at this point, at least until Severino climbs out of his current funk.
If the trades for Lynn and Happ never took place, the Yankees’ rotation would be in absolute shambles right now. Sonny Gray would be back in the rotation, and you would be seeing a lot more of Luis Cessa. Neither of those are particularly appealing scenarios, so Yankees Universe should send plenty of “Thank You” letters to Cashman for grabbing a pair of arms prior to the deadline. And maybe, just maybe, ask him to grab an outfielder before the waiver deadline.