The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
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Yankees get shut out at MLB trade deadline

The biggest surprise in the closing hour of the July 31 trade deadline was the Astros’ acquisition of superstar pitcher Zach Greinke.  Close behind that breaking story, came the shocking news that the Yankees didn’t make a deal for much-needed starting pitching.  Yankees fans are still reeling that GM Brian Cashman didn’t pull the trigger on getting help.  Sarcastically, some were even wondering if Cashman actually realized there was a deadline.

The last few weeks have highlighted the fact the Yankees needed to bolster their pitching, especially their starting rotation.  (In their two series against Minnesota and Boston during July 22-28, they had a team ERA of 9.86).  Everyone just assumed that Cashman would remedy the situation, as they have always managed to do over the years when they needed additional roster help.  Past history said the Yankees would be in the mix with the other teams vying for the top available starters on the market, doing whatever it took to make a deal.

However, the New York Mets threw a wrench into the starting pitching pursuit by several teams when they traded for Marcus Stroman several days before the deadline.  When everyone thought the Mets would be sellers, including unloading Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, they charged out front as buyers.

The Mets ultimately retreated from moving Syndergaard and Wheeler anywhere.  Many thought the Mets especially didn’t want to move either one of them to their cross-town rival Yankees.

Top-of-the-rotation starters Madison Bumgarner and Greinke included the Yankees on their no-trade list, so Cashman likely didn’t even get a chance to bid for their services.

Even if the Yankees didn’t land the top prize among pitchers, it was thought they would minimally pursue a No.4 or No. 5 starter in the rotation that could eat innings and take some of the demand off their bullpen.

Seattle’s Mike Leake, Detroit’s Matt Boyd, Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer, Texas’ Mike Minor, and Arizona’s Robbie Ray were other starters thought to be available, but at the end of the day on July 31 only Leake and Bauer had been moved.  And not to the Yankees.

Perhaps the other teams wanted too much, in the way of prospects, for Cashman to agree to a deal.  He had let it be known he was unwilling to part with the Yankees’ top pitching prospect Deivi Garcia.

So the Yankees begin the remainder of the season with the rotation they started the season with.  Domingo German has been the unpredicted star of the staff with a 13-2 record.  Their No. 1 starter Masahiro Tanaka (7-6, 4.78 ERA, 1.279) has been in double-digit strikeouts only once this year.  James Paxton, whom they acquired over the winter to bolster the staff, hasn’t met expectations (5-6, 4.72 ERA, 1.506 WHIP).  J.A Happ (8-6) has the highest ERA (5.19) on the staff.  CC Sabathia (5-6, 4.78 ERA), who already announced his retirement at the end of this season, is generally available for only five innings per game.  Last year’s ace, Luis Severino, hasn’t pitched all year due to an inflamed rotator cuff.  The Yankees are still hopeful he will make a return in September.  Cashman may decide to call up Garcia in September to eat up some innings, too.

Of course after the trade deadline passed, the standard line by the Yankees’ front office, manager Aaron Boone, and the players became, “Well, we feel we can win it all with the staff we have now.”

Therefore, the Yankees’ pitching strategy for the remainder of the season will likely be similar to the first half—score a lot of runs, survive the early innings of games with the starters, and turn over the game to the bullpen.  It’s worked so far, as the Yankees are 30 games above .500.

The Yankees can still survive winning the division with mediocre pitching, but it’s in the post-season where lack of quality starters will hurt the most.  As good as it is, the bullpen won’t likely hold up if it gets overworked.

Houston supplanted the Yankees as the favorites in the American League to go the World Series.  Unlike the Yankees, the Astros did pull the trigger on the biggest deal of the trade deadline by acquiring Greinke from the Diamondbacks.  With top-of-the-line workhorses Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole already in the stable, the Astros appear to be unstoppable.  Plus, they added another quality starter, Aaron Sanchez from the Blue Jays (By the way he pitched six innings in a combined no-hitter for the Astros Saturday night).

Cashman reportedly admitted he didn’t get close to anything in a deal in the final days and hours.  If that’s true, then the Yankees got shut out by the other teams.  That would have never happened when George Steinbrenner was still running the team.

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