Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The trade deadline has come and gone, and your New York Yankees have acquired 20-year-old left-hander, Alfredo Garcia! The Yankees finally got their pitcher! The only problem is that he’s currently in Single-A and has a 6.28 ERA.
Sarcasm aside, Brian Cashman and his team decided not to improve their underperforming starting staff and instead, stand still. If that on its face seems less than ideal, well, the context of the situation makes things even worse. The Houston Astros, arguably New York’s biggest threat in the American League, acquired former Cy Young award winner, Zack Greinke in the final minutes of the deadline. Adding him to an already impressive rotation should not only make the Astros AL favorites, but World Series favorites as well. There are currently five qualified pitchers with a WHIP of 1.00 or under this season. The Astros now own three of them: Justin Verlander, Greinke, and Gerrit Cole.
Prayers up for whichever teams have to face this new Astros trio in the playoffs.— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 31, 2019
Zack Greinke: 10-4, 2.87 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 8.17 K/9
Gerrit Cole: 12-5, 2.94 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.28 K/9
Justin Verlander: 14-4, 2.73 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 11.63 K/9 pic.twitter.com/OeijzmtVaM
There’s no doubt that this is a deflating scene for the Yankees and their fans. It feels like déjà vu from when the Astros traded for Justin Verlander minutes before the deadline in August of 2017.
In my mind, the Yankees had two things to accomplish at the deadline: acquire a starting pitcher, and make sure the Astros don’t get significantly better then them. They didn’t check off either box. Yes, Greinke had the Yankees under his no-trade clause, but there’s still a chance, however small, he could have waived it to come to New York. Moreover, there were other options on the market as well.
Not only did the Yankees not add to the rotation, they didn’t add to the bullpen, either. The worst part about this whole thing could be Cashman saying “we didn’t get close on anything” in regards to finding a trade partner. Him also coming out and indirectly saying that Luis Severino and Dellin Betences will help later on is not a good look.
Cashman: “Because of how it shaped out, we're gonna basically look to hopefully add from our disabled list. We have some pretty star-studded guys sitting there waiting in the wings. Hopefully their rehabs finally finish off properly and they can join this club and reinforce us.”— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 31, 2019
Obviously the Astros now have a four-headed monster in Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and Wade Miley in their rotation. Some may argue that the Yankees don’t have a single starter that’s better than any of those guys. The Bombers will now have to rely heavily on the returns of both Severino and Betances, and pray they can perform at high levels. With a team that seems World Series-ready, the Yankees decided to hang onto their prospects, rather than surrender some now for proven major league talent that would have an immediate impact. Every team has a “window” of opportunity, and it’s obvious that window is now for the Yankees, yet they still stood pat.
Of course, this doesn’t mean this season is a lost cause. There’s still plenty more baseball left to play, and this is one of the best Yankees squads we’ve seen in years. That said, the Yankees could have another short postseason run if their starters don’t improve in a major way. If now is not the time to finally be true “buyers” at the deadline, then when will it be? The last time the Yankees heavily pursued an elite starting pitcher was a decade ago in 2009 when they signed CC Sabathia. Since then? Nothing much.
Here’s a surface-level look at how the Yankees and Astros pitching currently stacks up to one another. (Hint: it’s not close.)
Verlander- 2.73 ERA
Greinke- 2.87 ERA
Cole- 2.94 ERA
Miley- 3.06 ERA
German- 4.08 ERA
Paxton- 4.72 ERA
Sabathia- 4.78 ERA
Tanaka- 4.79 ERA
If you’ve made your way to the end of this article, I’ll try to leave you off on a high-note. Zack Britton made a good point in saying that back in 2014, the Detroit Tigers had David Price, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander...but still got swept by the Orioles in the ALDS. With Houston looking as high-powered as that Tigers rotation, the Yankees hope to replicate what the Orioles once accomplished. Wow, never thought I’d say that.