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Free Agent Hit or Miss: Pitchers Edition (Halfway Mark)

Earlier this season, I checked in on some of the pitchers the Yankees did not sign. Now that the year is halfway through, have any of them make a course correction?

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

As I noted in May, the Yankees made the surprising move last offseason to not add to the pitching staff in any notable way. While this decision has not yet had a major effect on how well the Yankees have performed (notwithstanding the drubbing the Yankees faced from the Astros), it still seems like a good idea to look at some of the best free agent pitchers to see if the Yankees missed out. I am only looking at the pitchers that I examined previously. This means that I am only looking at some of the WAR pitching leaders from last season.

Max Scherzer

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images

This season has been a microcosm for Scherzer’s career in recent years. Amazing performance stymied by periods of injury. It’s not to the level of deGrom or Kluber, but he has had to deal with a number of injuries over the previous seasons. The fact that he spent a little more than a month on the injured list from the end of May to July, comes as no surprise. Even with the stint on the injured list, he still has pitched 69.0 innings with a 2.22 ERA and an xERA of just 2.92. Those kind of numbers make the injury concerns seem paltry in comparison. Scherzer is going to the Hall of Fame and the Yankees could have paid him to come to the Yankees, yet they did not.

Kevin Gausman

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Gausman has been rock solid for the Blue Jays after losing Hyun Jin Ryu to season-ending UCL surgery. After Gausman’s great season with the Giants last year, he has continued to spin the baseball with great alacrity. Over 94.0 innings, he has 106 strikeouts to go with a 2.87 earned run average. While those numbers appear excellent, and they are, there are some concerning issues that pop up. Most of those issues revolve around the fact that hitters seem to be able to hit Gausman’s pitching fairly hard. As a result, he has average exit velocity and hard hit percentage below league average. A more league average xERA of 3.57 makes sense, then. Overall, he is an very good pitcher, but potentially not as a great as one would expect from his baseline statistics.

Carlos Rodón

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

While early in the season, Rodón seemed like an OK but not great pickup by the Giants. With more time passing, he looks like one of the best signings from last offseason. Over 110.0 innings, he has pitched to a 2.95 ERA with 138 strikeouts. In a lot of ways, Rodón has pitched like a better version of Gausman. Hitters can still hit him fairly hard, but the type of contact has been much less damaging. As a result, his xERA sits at an excellent 2.92. This would indicate that his peripherals and performance are right in line. There are not any immediate indicators that this performance is a fluke — the White Sox let one get away, and the Yankees perhaps should’ve contemplated him more.

Eduardo Rodriguez

MLB: MAY 18 Tigers at Rays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Eduardo Rodriguez has a rough go of it this season. Since signing him, the relationship with the Detroit Tigers has been an unmitigated disaster. That is not to say that he could not still be an effective starter, but rather that he has not so far been a good starter. Before becoming injured with a left ribcage sprain, he pitched alright — over 39.0 innings, he had a 4.38 ERA, though with a better xERA at 3.99. He was starting to take rehab starts in the early parts of June. Unfortunately, he has had not rejoined the Tigers due to personal issues. That is not a situation you hope to see, and all I can say is that I hope he is able to deal with his issues and come back stronger.

Robbie Ray

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

In another surprising turn of events, Robbie Ray has made an about-face and has become a very good starter once again. When I last checked in on him, he sat at 4.62 ERA, which was not fantastic. Since then, he has gone on an absolute tear. In June he had a 2.19 ERA and he followed that up with a 2.33 ERA so far in July. As a result, his 3.54 ERA in 117.0 innings seems pretty good. More importantly, his expected earned run average sits below his actual earned run average at 3.29. As a consequence, he is starting to look like another good signing.

In conclusion, what is the opposite of buyers remorse? Oh yeah, its FOMO. With the exception of Eduardo Rodriguez, each of these pitchers has done a good job for their teams. They certainly could have come in handy with the innings limitations and injuries among the starting the staff.