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Three pitchers performing well right before the trade deadline

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The Yankees’ rotation is struggling, but these pitchers aren’t.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Yankees have faced two of the best offensive clubs in the American League over the last week, and the results haven’t been great. These rotation struggles are magnified even more when considering the flops have come against two potential matchups. Fortunately for the Yankees they were able to win the series against the Minnesota Twins, but they haven’t had such luck in facing the Boston Red Sox. A team never want to see their rotation struggle, but if there were a time when bad starting pitching could get resolved fairly quickly, its right before the trade deadline.

The Yankees have targeted multiple arms of late, as Brain Cashman has expressed his desire to add pitching, whether it be a starter or reliever. With the bullpen already a strength for the Yankees, any top reliever would be welcomed, but there still would be a big hole in the rotation. James Paxton hasn’t been the top starter they envisioned, Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t been the same for a over a month, and we still don’t know how long Domingo German has left in the rotation due to an innings limit.

With all these uncertainties, it makes sense why Cashman wants a starter. Here are a few who have been making a case to be traded as the deadline approaches:

Marcus Stroman

Social media can be used multiple ways, and in Stroman’s case, it’s been used as a platform hinting he wants to play for the Yankees. His interest is clearly there and the Bombers have reasons to be interested as well. He might not have the high strikeout rate one would desire, but he does have positive marks in two other categories.

Stroman consistently sits as one of the league leaders in groundball rate, and 2019 is no exception as he currently ranks second among pitchers who have thrown more than 100 innings. He is also one of the best pitchers in creating soft contact, currently ranking 10th overall.

The right-hander is having one of the best seasons of his career, and it couldn’t be at a better time for him after injuries cost him effectiveness last year. He pitched 200 innings the two years prior to 2018 and it looks like he wants to reach that mark once again. To accomplish that feat, Stroman relies heavily on a sinker producing an average launch angle of -3, and a slider resulting in a .167 batting average against per Statcast. Last season the Blue Jays dealt J.A. Happ to the Yankees in a inter-division trade, so it could happen again.

Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard’s potential is through the roof, and every organization looking into him knows they would be adding a top arm for this season and the next. The sinking fastball and fourseamer both average about 97 miles per hour, while featuring a changeup averaging about 91 miles per hour with a whiff rate of 30.1% according to Statcast. His overall numbers aren’t too impressive this season, but he has been able to produce a ERA of 3.43 and FIP of 3.58 since June 9th.

What’s interesting about Syndergaard’s arsenal is that two of his least used pitches actually produce the best numbers. His throws his changeup about 18% of the time and his slider at a 12.3% clip, both resulting in a xBA under .200. While the Yankees have historically minimized fastball usage, introducing someone like Syndergaard wouldn’t mean they would entirely change his approach. His secondary pitches, however, could be intriguing to the organization.

Also, bringing over a pitcher of his caliber and being ale to offer an extension to shore up the rotation with Luis Severino and Domingo German could be a possibility. The Mets aren’t fond of trading with the Yankees, but if Syndergaard is available, Cashman should be trying every single angle to add him to the rotation.

Robbie Ray

Unlike Stroman and Syndergaard, Ray’s strikeout percentage jumps off the page. He ranks sixth in the league in this category, but his inability to avoid walks is worrisome. Ray relies heavily on his fourseam fastball and slider, counting for about 76% of his pitch usage, while his slider produces the best numbers with a batting average of .198 and a 45.6% whiff rate. He isn’t having as good a season as Stroman, nor does he have a ceiling as high as Syndergaard, but Ray could offer an improvement over a struggling Happ for instance.

The Yankees have many more options but they are running out of time. Hopefully a new arm gets added to the rotation soon.