Tag: Madison Bumgarner

Assorted Thoughts 7 Hours Before the 2019 Trade Deadline

Well, today’s the day. The Yankees will either upgrade their starting rotation by 4 pm EST or they won’t do so at all. Remember, this year is the first year of no August waiver wire, so today’s all we’ve got. The deadline has already been a bit of an adventure for a few reasons, so here are a few assorted thoughts as we go into the day.

1. Marcus Stroman is off the Board: As we all know, Stroman was traded to the Mets in a move that shocked nearly everyone. I found this disappointing, personally, as I thought that Stroman was both the most likely SP upgrade the Yanks would make and also my preference among the rumored options. His 56.3% GB% ranks 2nd in the league among 74 qualified starting pitchers, and his 0.72 HR/9 ranks 4th among that same group. He’s averaging about 6 innings pitched a start, too. He would have made a nice addition to the Yankee rotation, even if he isn’t the dominating ace everyone expects for some reason.

As for the package the Mets surrendered to get him, well, it’s hard to say that the Yankees couldn’t have beaten it. Industry perception seems to be that the Blue Jays got fleeced in the deal–though, as always, it’s far too early to determine that!–and that the front office rushed into moving Stroman. Anthony Kay is a nice piece, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Yankees have comparable talent. Who knows what happened? I doubt it was on the Yankees’ end, though. His salary isn’t prohibitive (this year or next) and the Yanks had the pieces. Maybe Toronto just didn’t want to trade their ace within the division? Who knows. This is a bummer, though. For sure.

2. Trevor Bauer, Too: The Yankees also missed the boat on now-Red Trevor Bauer, who was shipped out of Cleveland last night in a three-team trade. Bauer is having a nice year and showed last year how dominant he can be, but his incident throwing the ball over the centerfield wall the other day just perfectly illustrates why a considerable number of Yankee fans simply didn’t want to root for him. In pure baseball terms, he’d have made the team better, though, and now he’s unavailable. I guess Cincy could try to flip him, but I doubt it. A rotation of Castillo/Bauer/Gray is pretty damn formidable.

Now, could the Yankees have beaten this package? On their own, absolutely not. Cleveland added Yasiel Puig and prospect Scott Moss from Cincy and Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, and Victor Nova. That’s a haul better than what the Yankees could have given them. They probably could have been involved in a three-team trade, and maybe Clint Frazier gets it done, but Cleveland clearly wanted MLB talent, and they got it. I don’t know if the Yankees could have matched. Maybe Clint and Luis Gil? That feels light, and my trade proposals, like yours, suck.

What I do know is that, yet again, the luxury tax threshold is back amid Yankee trade rumors. Joel Sherman of the Post last night reported that the Yankees had “concerns” about where Bauer’s “$20 million-ish contract for next year would push a payroll that already projects to well beyond $200 million for luxury tax purposes.” Look. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of reasons not to want Bauer on the team, but his salary isn’t one. This remains the single most infuriating thing the Yankees have done in probably over two decades, so it could be worse, but man is it infuriating.

3. Mike Minor Is Still Out There: So, in other words, after a few days of inaction, the two best starting pitchers on the market are no longer around, and neither of them are on the Yankees. That’s frustrating! Fans are allowed to be frustrated by this, but all hope is not lost. There are still a few other options, including Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers, who according to Baseball-Reference at least, is having the best season among all starters in the league. For real. Check out their WAR leaderboard for pitchers:

  1. Mike Minor: 5.9
  2. Max Scherzer: 5.4
  3. Lance Lynn: 5.0
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu: 4.6
  5. Justin Verlander/Stephen Strasburg: 4.5

Holy smokes! That’s some real production right there. I had written up a (very) long post in the same style as my other trade analyses the other day, and then WordPress ate it, which was insanely frustrating. Sorry about that. However, the long and short of it is this: Minor is having one hell of a season. He’s limiting homers, generating a lot of swings and misses, keeping the ball on ground, and he is averaging about 7 innings a start on the season. He’s walking more guys than you’d like to see, but you can’t argue with the success this year. It’s been real. He also has one of the highest-spin fastballs in baseball, which the Yankees love.

Now, is it sustainable over the long term? I’m not sure. Minor hasn’t ever really had results like this, save 2013. But sometimes it’s not always about the long-term. Would Minor make the Yankees immediately better? Yes. Is he available now? Also yes. The Yankees are in contention for the World Series, and I do think that adding Minor would better position the team to bring the trophy home in October, his performance next year be damned.

4. Robbie Ray, Too: The Yankees have also been linked to Arizona’s Robbie Ray, who is I think the most intriguing of the available starters. Let’s first focus on the good: holy cow does he miss bats. His 12.07 K/9 is 5th highest among qualified pitchers, and this isn’t a new skill. Check out his K rate rankings among pitchers with at least 100 IP in each season over the last few years:

  • 2016: 28.1% (9th)
  • 2017: 33.0% (5th)
  • 2018: 31.4% (8th, min 100 IP)
  • 2019: 31.6% (6th)
  • Cumulative (2016-19): 30.8% (3rd among 153 qualified pitchers)

So, yeah. That’s legitimate stuff right there, and it speaks to why Ray is appealing. Here’s the bad news: Ray also walks a lot of guys. A LOT of guys. I don’t think I need to do the same exercise again to prove this point, but here are the cumulative walk rate numbers from 2016-2019 among qualified pitchers for Ray: 10.7%, which ranks 6th highest out of 153. That’s way, way too many walks for my tastes. This year, though not as much historically, Ray is also surrendering a lot of homers, and walks and homers are an ugly combination. Especially in the AL East. Those might be warning signs.

However, with that said, I think the fanbase at large is a bit too dismissive of Ray. He’s not the big name we wanted or maybe even expected, but you don’t miss that many bats without legitimate stuff. The Yankees may see in Ray the potential to unlock an ace. I’d have to look under the hood to get a better sense of what that might be, but again, his stuff is clearly legit. Now, that’s also what’s been said about guys like Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Sonny Gray, and, most recently, James Paxton. We know what those results have been. I can see why fans wouldn’t want any more experiments like that.

But you know what? The Yankees also developed Luis Severino, which you never hear discussed, and that guy is pretty damn good. And the Yankees pitching staff has actually been one of the best in the league in 2017 and 2018 and it was pretty good until 10 days ago this year, too. The idea that the Yankees are completely lost when it comes to pitching is misguided at best, though there’s no denying that it’s been frustrating this week. (Also: pitching is hard and there aren’t many success stories out there, as a whole. Keep some perspective, please.)

Point is, the Yankees are very smart, and may be able to tweak Ray’s approach and turn him into a real difference maker, and if they don’t, they’d be adding a pitcher who can soak up innings, generally limit the damage, and help stabilize the rotation for now. That’s a win in my book.

5. Madison Bumgarner’s Availability: Is Madison Bumgarner really available? That’s a huge question today, and I have to say that I’m conflicted. But first, let’s establish something: Bumgarner is flying under the radar, a bit. I think signs of his decline are way too premature.

When I wrote about Bumgarner a few weeks ago, I was impressed to see some under-the-hood figures that suggested a resurgence was in order. I even talked myself into being excited should the Yankees acquire him. He made a start the next day after that posted. Here’s his line since: 3-1, 3.47 ERA (2.97 FIP, 81 ERA-) with 9.64 K/9 (26.3% K%) and only 1.74 BB/9 (4.7% BB%) in 46.2 IP. Sign me the hell up for that!

Now, back to the conflicted part: the Giants are on quite a run right now and have literally been the best team in baseball for the past month. They’re only 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. Now, Bumgarner is almost surely going to walk after the season, but aren’t the Giants–the GIANTS!– the perfect case study in “make the playoffs and anything can happen?” I think it would be a distressing sign for the health of the league if the Giants sold MadBum. It would really bother me on a deep level as someone who cares deeply about baseball as a whole.

*John Sterling Voice* Howevah, I really, really, really want the Yankees to win the World Series and I think Bumgarner would greatly improve their chances of doing so, so I’d be willing to look past this obvious red flag if the Yankees got him. Any other team, though? Time to be mad online, folks. But for real, in terms of Ray, Bumgarner, or Minor, I think Yankee fans should be happy if Cashman acquires any of those 3 today. They can really pitch, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of squinting to see real positives from any of them. They’d all help make the team better, which is the point of all this.

6. Adding a Reliever Instead: But what if they don’t? Cashman and the Yankee front office’s modus operandi in recent years, particularly with pitching, seems to be sticking to a set price and never once wavering. We’ve seen it a million times. Corbin, Cole, Scherzer, etc. I don’t need to keep going, do I? I think it keeps most of us up at night.

Anyway, if they stick to this again and don’t make a move for a starter, I don’t think they’l stand pat. They’ll add a reliever, preferably a high-leverage one, and bank on being about to go four-and-fly come October with one of the best pens in league history. And yes, everyone will whine about the starters not being championship level or whatever, but this exact strategy worked for the Kansas City Royals (who had a much worse offense) exactly…*checks notes*…3 seasons ago. That’s not ancient history. I don’t know who that is–Archie Bradley? Will Smith? Edwin Diaz (lol)–but this feels inevitable should the Yankees miss out on a starter. Hell, it might be inevitable anyway. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Yanks add a reliever either way. Who that is might just depend on the SP market.

7. “Adding Severino is The Best Trade We Can Make”: Look, I know we hate it. We all hate it. But that’s what Brian Cashman is going to say, and in fact, he’s already said it. I know it sounds like a BS PR excuse, and the reality is that it is that to a great extent. But what if I told you…it’s also…true? There isn’t a pitcher out there as good as Severino. Here are some key stats from 2017-2018, with his rankings among qualified starters in parentheses:

  • Wins: 33 (4th)
  • ERA: 3.18 (11th)
  • FIP: 3.01 (5th)
  • Innings Pitched: 384.2 (10th)
  • Strikeouts per 9: 10.53 (9th)
  • Walks per 9: 2.27 (13th)
  • HR per 9: 0.94 (17th)
  • fWAR: 11.2 (5th)

The Yankees aren’t getting a pitcher like that out there on the market. Pitchers like that barely even exist. Now, should that stop them from acquiring a starting pitcher today? Absolutely not! Say it again: absolutely not! In no way, shape, or form should the Yankees count on Severino (or Betances) for a single inning this year. They should make every possible move to ensure that they don’t need to rely on him, in fact. That should be, and I think it is, a priority.

But, even if they do trade for MadBum or Minor or Ray, if Severino returns and is able to start games for the Yankees in 2019, then Brian Cashman will be right: the very best starting pitching “acquisition” of the entire season will have been the return of Luis Severino. There’s no denying it.

8. Delayed Keuchel Reaction: Good grief has this deadline really hammered home the fact that the Yankees made a big mistake in passing on Dallas Keuchel a few months ago. I wrote about it at the time, but it’s not exactly a radical position. Everyone seemed to feel that way except the Yankees. It remains utterly baffling to me that the Yankees didn’t sign him. He’d have been a perfect fit. This entire deadline would be way, way less stressful for everyone, and the Yankees would be way less desperate.

Keuchel has made 8 starts since he signed with Atlanta, and he’s averaging over 6 innings per start with a 3.86 ERA (4.82 FIP) and a 60% grounder rate. He’s surrendering a few more homers and walks than you’d expect, but by and large, Keuchel has been exactly what you’d have expected and exactly what the Yankees need. The team simply wouldn’t budge from their internal value for Keuchel and they’re paying the price. Now they’ll have to surrender several prospects or they’ll have to stand pat with this rotation (which, I *insist* is much better than people think). Not great.


We’ll have an active thread throughout the day, dutifully updated by Derek. Additionally, we will provide as-instant-as-possible reaction to any trades that do go down. The Yankees are, in my view, the best team in baseball in terms of pure talent. They have a real opportunity to get better today. Let’s hope they do just that.

Assorted Thoughts 7 Hours Before the 2019 Trade Deadline

Well, today’s the day. The Yankees will either upgrade their starting rotation by 4 pm EST or they won’t do so at all. Remember, this year is the first year of no August waiver wire, so today’s all we’ve got. The deadline has already been a bit of an adventure for a few reasons, so here are a few assorted thoughts as we go into the day.

1. Marcus Stroman is off the Board: As we all know, Stroman was traded to the Mets in a move that shocked nearly everyone. I found this disappointing, personally, as I thought that Stroman was both the most likely SP upgrade the Yanks would make and also my preference among the rumored options. His 56.3% GB% ranks 2nd in the league among 74 qualified starting pitchers, and his 0.72 HR/9 ranks 4th among that same group. He’s averaging about 6 innings pitched a start, too. He would have made a nice addition to the Yankee rotation, even if he isn’t the dominating ace everyone expects for some reason.

As for the package the Mets surrendered to get him, well, it’s hard to say that the Yankees couldn’t have beaten it. Industry perception seems to be that the Blue Jays got fleeced in the deal–though, as always, it’s far too early to determine that!–and that the front office rushed into moving Stroman. Anthony Kay is a nice piece, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Yankees have comparable talent. Who knows what happened? I doubt it was on the Yankees’ end, though. His salary isn’t prohibitive (this year or next) and the Yanks had the pieces. Maybe Toronto just didn’t want to trade their ace within the division? Who knows. This is a bummer, though. For sure.

2. Trevor Bauer, Too: The Yankees also missed the boat on now-Red Trevor Bauer, who was shipped out of Cleveland last night in a three-team trade. Bauer is having a nice year and showed last year how dominant he can be, but his incident throwing the ball over the centerfield wall the other day just perfectly illustrates why a considerable number of Yankee fans simply didn’t want to root for him. In pure baseball terms, he’d have made the team better, though, and now he’s unavailable. I guess Cincy could try to flip him, but I doubt it. A rotation of Castillo/Bauer/Gray is pretty damn formidable.

Now, could the Yankees have beaten this package? On their own, absolutely not. Cleveland added Yasiel Puig and prospect Scott Moss from Cincy and Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, and Victor Nova. That’s a haul better than what the Yankees could have given them. They probably could have been involved in a three-team trade, and maybe Clint Frazier gets it done, but Cleveland clearly wanted MLB talent, and they got it. I don’t know if the Yankees could have matched. Maybe Clint and Luis Gil? That feels light, and my trade proposals, like yours, suck.

What I do know is that, yet again, the luxury tax threshold is back amid Yankee trade rumors. Joel Sherman of the Post last night reported that the Yankees had “concerns” about where Bauer’s “$20 million-ish contract for next year would push a payroll that already projects to well beyond $200 million for luxury tax purposes.” Look. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of reasons not to want Bauer on the team, but his salary isn’t one. This remains the single most infuriating thing the Yankees have done in probably over two decades, so it could be worse, but man is it infuriating.

3. Mike Minor Is Still Out There: So, in other words, after a few days of inaction, the two best starting pitchers on the market are no longer around, and neither of them are on the Yankees. That’s frustrating! Fans are allowed to be frustrated by this, but all hope is not lost. There are still a few other options, including Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers, who according to Baseball-Reference at least, is having the best season among all starters in the league. For real. Check out their WAR leaderboard for pitchers:

  1. Mike Minor: 5.9
  2. Max Scherzer: 5.4
  3. Lance Lynn: 5.0
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu: 4.6
  5. Justin Verlander/Stephen Strasburg: 4.5

Holy smokes! That’s some real production right there. I had written up a (very) long post in the same style as my other trade analyses the other day, and then WordPress ate it, which was insanely frustrating. Sorry about that. However, the long and short of it is this: Minor is having one hell of a season. He’s limiting homers, generating a lot of swings and misses, keeping the ball on ground, and he is averaging about 7 innings a start on the season. He’s walking more guys than you’d like to see, but you can’t argue with the success this year. It’s been real. He also has one of the highest-spin fastballs in baseball, which the Yankees love.

Now, is it sustainable over the long term? I’m not sure. Minor hasn’t ever really had results like this, save 2013. But sometimes it’s not always about the long-term. Would Minor make the Yankees immediately better? Yes. Is he available now? Also yes. The Yankees are in contention for the World Series, and I do think that adding Minor would better position the team to bring the trophy home in October, his performance next year be damned.

4. Robbie Ray, Too: The Yankees have also been linked to Arizona’s Robbie Ray, who is I think the most intriguing of the available starters. Let’s first focus on the good: holy cow does he miss bats. His 12.07 K/9 is 5th highest among qualified pitchers, and this isn’t a new skill. Check out his K rate rankings among pitchers with at least 100 IP in each season over the last few years:

  • 2016: 28.1% (9th)
  • 2017: 33.0% (5th)
  • 2018: 31.4% (8th, min 100 IP)
  • 2019: 31.6% (6th)
  • Cumulative (2016-19): 30.8% (3rd among 153 qualified pitchers)

So, yeah. That’s legitimate stuff right there, and it speaks to why Ray is appealing. Here’s the bad news: Ray also walks a lot of guys. A LOT of guys. I don’t think I need to do the same exercise again to prove this point, but here are the cumulative walk rate numbers from 2016-2019 among qualified pitchers for Ray: 10.7%, which ranks 6th highest out of 153. That’s way, way too many walks for my tastes. This year, though not as much historically, Ray is also surrendering a lot of homers, and walks and homers are an ugly combination. Especially in the AL East. Those might be warning signs.

However, with that said, I think the fanbase at large is a bit too dismissive of Ray. He’s not the big name we wanted or maybe even expected, but you don’t miss that many bats without legitimate stuff. The Yankees may see in Ray the potential to unlock an ace. I’d have to look under the hood to get a better sense of what that might be, but again, his stuff is clearly legit. Now, that’s also what’s been said about guys like Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Sonny Gray, and, most recently, James Paxton. We know what those results have been. I can see why fans wouldn’t want any more experiments like that.

But you know what? The Yankees also developed Luis Severino, which you never hear discussed, and that guy is pretty damn good. And the Yankees pitching staff has actually been one of the best in the league in 2017 and 2018 and it was pretty good until 10 days ago this year, too. The idea that the Yankees are completely lost when it comes to pitching is misguided at best, though there’s no denying that it’s been frustrating this week. (Also: pitching is hard and there aren’t many success stories out there, as a whole. Keep some perspective, please.)

Point is, the Yankees are very smart, and may be able to tweak Ray’s approach and turn him into a real difference maker, and if they don’t, they’d be adding a pitcher who can soak up innings, generally limit the damage, and help stabilize the rotation for now. That’s a win in my book.

5. Madison Bumgarner’s Availability: Is Madison Bumgarner really available? That’s a huge question today, and I have to say that I’m conflicted. But first, let’s establish something: Bumgarner is flying under the radar, a bit. I think signs of his decline are way too premature.

When I wrote about Bumgarner a few weeks ago, I was impressed to see some under-the-hood figures that suggested a resurgence was in order. I even talked myself into being excited should the Yankees acquire him. He made a start the next day after that posted. Here’s his line since: 3-1, 3.47 ERA (2.97 FIP, 81 ERA-) with 9.64 K/9 (26.3% K%) and only 1.74 BB/9 (4.7% BB%) in 46.2 IP. Sign me the hell up for that!

Now, back to the conflicted part: the Giants are on quite a run right now and have literally been the best team in baseball for the past month. They’re only 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. Now, Bumgarner is almost surely going to walk after the season, but aren’t the Giants–the GIANTS!– the perfect case study in “make the playoffs and anything can happen?” I think it would be a distressing sign for the health of the league if the Giants sold MadBum. It would really bother me on a deep level as someone who cares deeply about baseball as a whole.

*John Sterling Voice* Howevah, I really, really, really want the Yankees to win the World Series and I think Bumgarner would greatly improve their chances of doing so, so I’d be willing to look past this obvious red flag if the Yankees got him. Any other team, though? Time to be mad online, folks. But for real, in terms of Ray, Bumgarner, or Minor, I think Yankee fans should be happy if Cashman acquires any of those 3 today. They can really pitch, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of squinting to see real positives from any of them. They’d all help make the team better, which is the point of all this.

6. Adding a Reliever Instead: But what if they don’t? Cashman and the Yankee front office’s modus operandi in recent years, particularly with pitching, seems to be sticking to a set price and never once wavering. We’ve seen it a million times. Corbin, Cole, Scherzer, etc. I don’t need to keep going, do I? I think it keeps most of us up at night.

Anyway, if they stick to this again and don’t make a move for a starter, I don’t think they’l stand pat. They’ll add a reliever, preferably a high-leverage one, and bank on being about to go four-and-fly come October with one of the best pens in league history. And yes, everyone will whine about the starters not being championship level or whatever, but this exact strategy worked for the Kansas City Royals (who had a much worse offense) exactly…*checks notes*…3 seasons ago. That’s not ancient history. I don’t know who that is–Archie Bradley? Will Smith? Edwin Diaz (lol)–but this feels inevitable should the Yankees miss out on a starter. Hell, it might be inevitable anyway. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Yanks add a reliever either way. Who that is might just depend on the SP market.

7. “Adding Severino is The Best Trade We Can Make”: Look, I know we hate it. We all hate it. But that’s what Brian Cashman is going to say, and in fact, he’s already said it. I know it sounds like a BS PR excuse, and the reality is that it is that to a great extent. But what if I told you…it’s also…true? There isn’t a pitcher out there as good as Severino. Here are some key stats from 2017-2018, with his rankings among qualified starters in parentheses:

  • Wins: 33 (4th)
  • ERA: 3.18 (11th)
  • FIP: 3.01 (5th)
  • Innings Pitched: 384.2 (10th)
  • Strikeouts per 9: 10.53 (9th)
  • Walks per 9: 2.27 (13th)
  • HR per 9: 0.94 (17th)
  • fWAR: 11.2 (5th)

The Yankees aren’t getting a pitcher like that out there on the market. Pitchers like that barely even exist. Now, should that stop them from acquiring a starting pitcher today? Absolutely not! Say it again: absolutely not! In no way, shape, or form should the Yankees count on Severino (or Betances) for a single inning this year. They should make every possible move to ensure that they don’t need to rely on him, in fact. That should be, and I think it is, a priority.

But, even if they do trade for MadBum or Minor or Ray, if Severino returns and is able to start games for the Yankees in 2019, then Brian Cashman will be right: the very best starting pitching “acquisition” of the entire season will have been the return of Luis Severino. There’s no denying it.

8. Delayed Keuchel Reaction: Good grief has this deadline really hammered home the fact that the Yankees made a big mistake in passing on Dallas Keuchel a few months ago. I wrote about it at the time, but it’s not exactly a radical position. Everyone seemed to feel that way except the Yankees. It remains utterly baffling to me that the Yankees didn’t sign him. He’d have been a perfect fit. This entire deadline would be way, way less stressful for everyone, and the Yankees would be way less desperate.

Keuchel has made 8 starts since he signed with Atlanta, and he’s averaging over 6 innings per start with a 3.86 ERA (4.82 FIP) and a 60% grounder rate. He’s surrendering a few more homers and walks than you’d expect, but by and large, Keuchel has been exactly what you’d have expected and exactly what the Yankees need. The team simply wouldn’t budge from their internal value for Keuchel and they’re paying the price. Now they’ll have to surrender several prospects or they’ll have to stand pat with this rotation (which, I *insist* is much better than people think). Not great.


We’ll have an active thread throughout the day, dutifully updated by Derek. Additionally, we will provide as-instant-as-possible reaction to any trades that do go down. The Yankees are, in my view, the best team in baseball in terms of pure talent. They have a real opportunity to get better today. Let’s hope they do just that.

Mailbag: Deivi, Stroman, Frazier, Severino, Chapman, Andújar

Embed from Getty Images

After four incredibly long nights without (real) baseball, we will finally see our Yanks back in action tonight when they take on the Blue Jays. I’m looking forward to this second half, you guys. I really am. I think it has the potential to be one of those that we remember for a long time.

Yankee fans do a lot of complaining, and we seem to spend a lot of time griping about the parts of the team that aren’t working, but as we get ready for this second half, let’s remember how good things are right now. There are not many teams in a better position than the Yanks are. I just hope the good times keep rolling throughout the summer and into the fall.

Anyway, on to the mailbag. We have 6 questions today. As always, send us your questions by email at viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Jamie Asks: With Marcus Stroman dealing with a pectoral injury and Max Scherzer presumably unavailable, are there any starting pitcher difference makers available that the Yankees are WILLING to trade for? Or are they most likely going to trade for this year’s Zach Britton?

Let’s just get this over with to begin with: Max Scherzer is definitely, 100% not available. There’s no reason to think he would be. I mean, if the season ended today, the Nationals would be the NL’s top Wild Card team. That doesn’t seem like a team that’s about to trade their best pitcher. Things have changed, and I think it’s time that Yankee fans move on from the Scherzer dream. It would be nice–more than nice–but it’s not going to happen.

As for difference-making SP, it depends on what you mean by “difference-making”, I guess. I’ve taken a pretty thorough look at Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman (I know, I know, the injury, but that does seem minor at this point), and Matt Boyd so far (with more on the way), and I think you could make an argument that any one of those guys could be a difference-maker. Hell, I think you could argue J.A. Happ was a difference-maker last year! It all depends in the definition.

There are, to the public’s knowledge at least, no true aces available this year, though. Bauer comes close I guess, but he’s still not on the Scherzer level. If Scherzer or another like him is what fans want, a lot of people aren’t going to be satisfied with this deadline, I think.

Matt Asks: What are the chances we see Severino or Betances this year? Do you think we sign Didi to an extension? Early predictions on Jasson? 

This one is a multi-parter, but I like all of the questions. I’m going to answer the last part first, though. I don’t really have a lot to say about Jasson Dominguez, the 16-year-old phenom from the Dominican Republic that the Yankees just signed, that you can’t find elsewhere. Jeff Passan wrote an excellent article about him, so just read that. FanGraphs, in what feels insane to me, already ranks him as the Yankees top-ranked prospect. I’ve never seen him play or even talked to anyone who has, so how can I say what I think right now? I’m excited to follow him, and I think you should be too. That’s all I know at this point.

Anyway, I think the odds that we see either Severino or Betances in 2019 are pretty slim at this point. The odds are decreasing with each day that we don’t hear more about them. Severino isn’t even throwing as far as we know, and the last we heard from him was that the Yankees bungled his recovery. The Yankees won’t even answer questions about Betances’ timeline. Remember, both of these guys are going to need significant rehab time. It’s starting to get late really early around here, which is a huge bummer. The Yanks are so much better with Severino and Betances.

As for Didi, I do think the Yanks sign him to an extension. He is clearly a valuable member of the clubhouse, and my man put up a .268/.335/.494 (121 wRC+) line last year with great defense. He’s improved every year in New York, and he took over for Derek Jeter. Not a small task. I think the Yanks will look to sign him after the season, and I think they’d be silly not to.

Since we’re talking about Didi, let’s all watch this again, because why the hell not:

Robert Asks: What’s up with Clint Frazier performing terribly at AAA? I know it’s been only a few weeks, but every time you show his name in DotF he’s 0 for 3 with 2 Ks. Prior to his demotion, he had like a .850 OPS with the Yanks! Is it possible that his anger at the Yankees has resulted in bad habits at the plate?

Robert is right: Clint is not hitting the same in Triple-A as he was in the Majors. He’s hitting .234/.290/.391 (71 wRC+) in the minors this year, to be exact, and .283/.330/.513 (117 wRC+) in the Bronx. What gives? Well, a few things.

First, it’s only been 70 Triple-A plate appearances for Clint. That’s not a lot and definitely not enough to make any declarative judgements though. Second, there does come a point where a player stagnates against minor league pitching, and I think Clint could be one of those cases. The dude is clearly an MLB-ready bat. I don’t think even his biggest detractors deny that. He needs consistent MLB at-bats to get better.

As for the last part, whether or not Clint is developing bad habits, I don’t think we can say that. He’s probably upset with his situation–you would be, too–and maybe that’s spilling onto the field. Does that mean he’s developing bad habits? Not necessarily. It just means he is struggling a little right now, but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over his Triple-A performance.

Matt Asks: Where would you set the over/under on Deivi Garcia MLB appearances this year? With the promotion to AAA it’s realistic he gets the call especially if he keeps pitching the way he’s been pitching. Couldn’t he be like Severino in 2015? Just pitching too well to hold back anymore.

I will never get tired of this GIF.

First of all, let me just say that I completely agree with the last part of this question: Deivi is pitching too well to hold back. The Yankees seem to agree. As Matt said, he was recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton. That may not sound like a lot, but consider the fact that Deivi is the youngest player in Scranton by more than 3 years at age 20 (Thairo Estrada is 23) and he’s the youngest pitcher by 4 years (Mike King is 24). He was also the youngest player on the Thunder roster.

There’s a good reason why. 688 players have thrown at least 50 innings this season across the entire minor league system. Here are some Deivi stats, with his ranking among that group in parentheses:

  • Strikeout Percentage: 39.3% (1st)
  • Strikeouts Per 9: 14.94 (1st)
  • FIP: 1.86 (1st)
  • K-BB rate: 27.9% (12th)
  • Home Runs Per 9: 0.26 (36th)
  • Swinging Strike Percentage: 15.5% (40th)
  • Batting Average Against: .198 (68th, top 10%)
  • Home Run Per Fly Ball Rate: 4.2% (71st)

If you were wondering why I have such a huge prospect crush on him, this is why: holy smokes those peripherals are good. They’re even more impressive when you remember his age and the fact that the bulk of these innings have come in the upper minors. It’s so, so hard not to get over-excited about this kid as a Yankee fan.

This has all been a rather long-winded way to say that I’ll set the over/under on Deivi MLB appearances in 2019 at 10. There are a few reasons for that. First, the Yankees are trying to win, and it’s too hard to ignore Deivi’s arm at this point. If he continues to carve through lineups like butter, we’re going to see him in the Bronx this year. However, he will have an innings limit this season, so that means he’d likely come up as a reliever, ala Joba Chamberlain. That said, the use of the MLB ball at Triple-A, along with facing the hitters in general, is going to be a major test for him.

So I’ll say 10, as I can see him getting a cup of coffee in the bigs in late September, but 10 appearances would be more than that. It would mean he had a role to play down the stretch. And you know what? I’m feeling optimistic. I’m going to take the over.

Andrew Asks: At this point, if Chapman were to opt out after this season, do you think the Yankees should re-sign him or let him walk?

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Ugh, this is a tough question. A really tough question. First of all, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Chapman is still really, really good. Since returning to New York, he is 9-4 with a 2.57 ERA (2.19 FIP) with 78 saves and 14 K/9 in 136.1 innings pitched. That all ranks toward the very top of the league in that period. It can feel shaky sometimes for some reason, but the reality is that the Yanks have one of the best closers in the business.

Not to mention, there aren’t any relievers out there with Chapman’s level of success or his kind of stuff. The guy is still in the 99th percentile of fastball velocity, for crying out loud, and he’s really refined his slider. The other best pending free agent is Betances, followed by Sean Doolittle. Slim pickings, even if Chapman isn’t getting younger.

Will he opt out? I kind of doubt it. He’d be leaving 2 years and $30 million on the table, and while he would probably beat that (look at the deals the Yanks gave Britton and Ottavino for non-closing roles), the market has been so anti-player recently that he might not want to deal with the hassle of it all. I’m not sure I blame him, and I go back and forth on whether or not he will opt out.

Now, with that said, if he opted out, I’d be fine if the Yankees let him walk. You don’t need me to remind you about the circumstances in which Chapman arrived in New York in the first place, after a domestic violence incident, a police investigation, and a suspension. This all makes me feel extremely uncomfortable–maybe it doesn’t make you feel that way, but it definitely does for me–and I wouldn’t be sorry to not have to wrestle with this anymore.

Ken Asks: I’m not trying to rush this incredibly fun season, but I also can’t help but wonder about next season. If we assume Andujar recovers fully from his labrum injury, and were you in charge, which four players would you want to get the most at-bats in the Yanks’ 2020 infield?

and George Asks: Look into your crystal ball:  2020 Yankees: if Miggy is healthy, does he stay or is he traded, once teams see the shoulder isn’t an issue?  If he stays, in what role and is Gio your starting 3bman?

These are two tough questions. To answer the first one, which then segues into the last, here are the top 4 players I’d want getting at-bats in the 2020 infield: DJLM, Torres, Didi, Voit. I think that’s, at this point, clearly the best option. (These things change so much that it’s silly, honestly, to even talk about, but it’s a fun thought experiment.)

As for Miggy, he’s going to have some serious, serious rehabbing to do. He won’t have faced live pitching in about 12 months by the time Spring Training rolls around, and he’ll be recovering from one of the worst injuries a baseball player can endure. I am a believer in Miggy, but he’s going to have to do a lot of work to get back to where he was. I hope he can force the issue, though, and I bet he will.

As for Gio, I think the sun has set on him. I could be wrong, but as I have said before, the Giodude is a career .262/.303/.385 (80 wRC+) hitter, and that includes this year’s success. He simply has never hit before his .304/.355/.469 (117 wRC+) year this year. Can he keep that up? I have my doubts. We’ve already seen some cracks in the armor. Check out his rolling xWOBA, via Statcast:

That right there is what we call a downward trend. I hope I’m wrong and Gio continues his magical 2019, but I think we should just be glad that his torrid streak happened at all. It helped the Yankees in a time of need, and we can’t take them back. It’s oh-so-very 2019 Yankees, honestly, and I love it so much.

News and Notes: HR Derby, Bauer, Deivi, Sikkema

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The All-Star break doesn’t mean the Yankees stop working. We’re a little more than three weeks from the trade deadline. And for non-Yankees news, tonight’s the Home Run Derby. Let’s get to some notes from Yankeeland and around baseball.

Yankees send Naehring to scout Bauer

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported (subs req’d) that the Yankees had one of their top talent evaluators at Trevor Bauer’s start in Cincinnati on Sunday. Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring was the man of the moment, watching Bauer earn a victory while holding the Reds to one run over seven innings.

Bauer is likely the top talent on the free agent market. He has a year and a half remaining on his contract and can last deep into games with his five (or more) pitch arsenal. He carries a 3.62 ERA into the break with a league-leading 132 innings.

He also comes with a fair amount of baggage, as I detailed recently. The Yankees reportedly don’t see his off-field behavior as a major concern, according to SNY’s Andy Martino.

In Rosenthal’s piece, he doesn’t mention the Yankees as a suitor for Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, who Bobby wrote about a few weeks ago. Furthermore, potential top target Marcus Stroman has dealt with a pectoral issue and missed a start. Could that injury make the Yankees shy away? Perhaps, even if Stroman is hanging with Gleyber Torres at the All-Star Game (check Stroman’s Instagram story).

If the Yankees veer away from Bumgarner and Stroman, that could leave Bauer as the eye of the Yankees’ focus.

Home Run Derby details and prediction

With no Luke Voit, there’s an unfortunate lack of Yankees in tonight’s Home Run Derby (ESPN, 8 p.m.). Still, there’s an exciting field that includes the Mets’ Pete Alonso, Astros star Alex Bregman and the top prospect himself, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The twist for this year? There’s a $1 million prize for the winner, and only three of the eight competitors make at least that much this season. That means there’s plenty of reason for these guys to go all out.

Hardball Talk has the details of tonight’s proceeding and their prediction. I’ll go away from the obvious favorite Alonso and pick Ronald Acuna Jr. Why? Well, why not? He can hit the ball just as far as the rest of ’em.

Deivi ranks 25th on BP’s Midseason Top 50

You don’t need to watch the Futures Game to see high praise for Deivi Garcia, who was promoted to Triple-A after a 1-2-3 outing in the prospect-laden game.

96 mph on the black? Deivi’s ready for Triple-A

Baseball Prospectus came out with its Midseason Top 50 and appear to be the publication most high on Garcia at the moment, ranking him No. 25. He was the only Yankee to appear on the list, which is topped by consensus No. 1 prospect Wander Franco. (No subs. needed for the list)

BP called Garcia’s stuff “unimpeachable” while touting his four-pitch repertoire and comparing him to Tigers pitching prospect/2018 No. 1 pick Casey Mize. In their “Why he might fail” section, they cite his diminutive stature and the chance he ends up in the bullpen. Still, to see Garcia ranking this high, it’s encouraging!

T.J. Sikkema hits ground running in Staten Island

Through two games in Staten Island, 2019 No. 38 overall pick T.J. Sikkema has allowed just two baserunners while tossing six scoreless innings. The left-hander out of Missouri has made quite the impression on his coaches, according to a profile on Pinstriped Prospects.

“Nobody does it like he does it from the left side,” SI Yanks pitching coach Travis Phelps said of Sikkema.

“That’s back-to-back starts where he’s lights out, honestly … He’s a guy who is a competitor, challenges hitters, has a lot of confidence and it shows out there,” manager David Adams added.

Highly recommend the piece, which goes into Sikkema’s four-pitch mix based off his fastball, his time at Missouri and which pitchers he sees his game as resembling (hint: it’s a couple of Chicago Cubs).

And if you missed it, Derek wrote about what Sikkema brings to the table in his draft profile series.

Yankees Trade Target: Madison Bumgarner

This is the first of a series of posts in which I’ll examine potential trade targets for the Yankees as we approach the trade deadline, providing an overview of their profile and their background. If you have suggestions for pitchers you’d like to see profiled or any questions, please reach out to us on Twitter or Gmail, both of which are available on our sidebar.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Yankees need a pitcher. Brian Cashman himself said so after trading for Edwin Encarnación the other day, telling reporters that he’s “got more work to do.” That invariably means another starting pitcher, and there should be a few available on the market in the next few weeks.

One of those that will almost certainly be made available is Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants. MadBum, who was recently involved in a spat with the Dodgers’ Max Muncy, has one of baseball’s most recognizable names due to his heroic postseason performances. He was most recently in the World Series five years ago, though. A lot has changed since then.

Let’s take a deep dive into the big-name starter’s background, performance, stuff, and injury history to determine if he’s a suitable trade candidate for the Yankees.

Background

Bumgarner is a 6-foot-4, 29-year-old left-handed pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. He was drafted 10th overall by the Giants in the 2007 Amateur Draft. He made his debut at age 20, which made him the second-youngest pitcher in Giants history, all the way back in 2009. If it feels like Bumgarner has been around forever and should be older than 29, that’s why. The dude has been around in very visible situations for a long time.

He owns a 3.08 ERA (3.29 FIP) in 1731.1 career innings pitched. He’s a 4-time All-Star and a 3-time World Series winner with an earned reputation for delivering in October. He finished in the top-10 of the NL Cy Young voting in each year from 2013-2016, though he’s never won the award. If you want name value, Bumgarner’s got it.

Performance

MadBum’s first real year in the bigs took place in 2010, when he threw 111 innings of 3.00 ERA (3.66 FIP) ball, but it wasn’t until the following year when he became the guy we all remember. Including 2011, Bumgarner would pitch at least 200 innings in 6 consecutive seasons, keeping his ERA under 3.00 in 4 of those 6 years. The dude was legit. He wasn’t quite Clayton Kershaw good over that period (who is?) but he was undeniably a frontline pitcher. One of the best.

An injury in 2017 (more on that in a moment) put a stop to that streak, and also seemed to denote the end of his peak. In 2017 and 2018, there were some real signs of decline. Take a look at this:

IPERAFIPK%BB%GB%FB%Hard Hit%
2011-20161387.23.003.1124.4%5.7%44.4%36.0%27.4%
2017111.03.323.9522.4%4.4%40.8%41.1%35.0%
2018129.23.263.9919.8%7.8%42.7%35.0%41.6%
201993.03.873.9723.6%5.2%36.3%38.2%46.4%

There’s a lot to break down here. First, 2017 really does mark a difference for Bumgarner, and it’s not just because he was hurt. Most of his rate stats declined: he struck out fewer batters, induced fewer grounders and more fly balls, and batters generated much harder contact against him.

That’s also evidenced by the fact that batters are performing much, much better against him. Check out the opposition’s triple-slash line against Bumgarner, broken up by the two different “eras” of his career, if you will:

  • 2011-2016: .229/.278/.356 (.634 OPS), 2.3% HR%
  • 2017-2019: .243/.294/.412 (.706 OPS), 3.3% HR%

Noticeably different! Batters have a different experience hitting against Bumgarner now, and they are clearly able to drive the ball more. He’s notably surrendering more home runs and is more susceptible to fly balls, as we’ve seen above. Harder contact and elevated contact is going to lead to more home runs, so no surprises there.

Now, this is not to say that the new Bumgarner is a bad pitcher. In fact, he very clearly is not that: he’s still quite effective and averaging 6.2 innings per start. That has real value. Not to mention, he is still comfortably above average. Not that FIP is the end-all, be-all (it very much is not that), but this is a good illustration:

Clearly, even though those two lines have converged a bit in recent years, he’s still above-average. And, if you want to be optimistic, they’ve actually started to split again in 2019.

Current Stuff

Bumgarner is primarily a four-pitch pitcher, relying on your usual combination of hard stuff (four-seam fastball and cutter) and off-speed stuff (curveball and changeup). He uses his fastball (43% usage) and cutter (37%) heavily, relying on them in total about 80% of the time. His cutter is his best pitch.

He also mixes in his curve (12%) and change (6%, though there is a disparity with RHB/LHB here) to keep batters honest. Here’s his usage chart, if you want it:

Bumgarner’s fastball reliance would seem to contradict the Yankees’ ongoing anti-fastball approach, but I think we’re almost at the point where we can discount that altogether. After all, the Yanks have acquired James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and Lance Lynn all within the last calendar year–and they’re each among the heaviest FB users in the game. Maybe it’s time to retire this idea.

Anyway, back to Bumgarner. Over the past few years, Bumgarner’s velocity has declined, which feels worth noting. Check this out:

Four-SeamCutterCurveballChangeup
201593.02 mph87.15 mph77.60 mph85.85 mph
201691.71 mph87.64 mph75.67 mph84.13 mph
201791.38 mph87.13 mph78.46 mph83.38 mph
201891.47 mph86.03 mph78.16 mph84.15 mph
201992.22 mph87.39 mph78.43 mph84.32 mph

There was a pretty clear downward trend right there from 2015-2018… but it seems like that’s changed so far in 2019. Back in May, Craig Edwards at FanGraphs wrote a very nice piece on Bumgarner’s velocity potentially making a comeback. You should check that out. Long story short, though, is that the uptick in velocity just might suggest that Bumgarner, who has been hurt in 2017 and 2018, might not have been operating at full capacity–and that the increased velocity is an encouraging sign.

That piece was written about six weeks ago, so I do have to say: looking at it now, it is actually encouraging. Peeling back the layers a bit further also illustrates the fact that there is some cause for optimism with Bumgarner. Check out his whiffs-per-swing over the same time period:

Four-SeamCutterCurveballChange
201522.22%29.38%36.80%8.33%
201622.75%24.64%41.29%20.00%
201716.11%22.22%36.77%6.25%
201812.94%25.00%26.67%21.88%
201919.45%28.19%32.89%7.89%

Given that he barely uses the changeup, let’s just ignore that one altogether, shall we? Good. Anyway, the rest of that data is mighty encouraging. After pretty precipitous drop off for both his curveball and fastball from 2017-2018, those figures have both rebounded significantly this year. Unsurprisingly, that correlates well to his rebounding K% that was highlighted earlier.

There’s a lot here, but I think if you look at his stuff overall, there are several signs to suggest that reports of Bumgarner’s decline–while not unwarranted, to be clear–may indeed be a bit premature. San Francisco is surely hoping he performs well over the next few weeks to make this case even stronger.

Injury

Bumgarner has dealt with injuries in each of the last two seasons, though neither incident provides serious cause for concern. They were fluky.

In 2017, he injured his shoulder during a dirt biking accident on a scheduled off-day in Colorado, going on to miss several months. A poor decision, no doubt, but it’s a fluke injury that isn’t representative of a recurring problem or anything like that.

Last year, Bumgarner broke his pinky and missed several months because of this:

Can’t do much about that. The comebacker, which came in his final start of the spring no less, is just bad luck. Those are two frustrating injuries!

As I said above, it is worth wondering if he’s been truly right the last few years. But one thing is for sure: Bumgarner has been a workhorse for several years and has no significant injury concerns. They’ve all been flukes. That’s a point in his favor.

Contract

Bumgarner is in the final year of an 8-year, $58.06 million deal with San Francisco. He’ll be a free agent after the season. San Francisco is terrible and there’s no doubt in my mind at all that they’d let him walk if they don’t trade him. Better to get something of value, right? So, in other words, Bumgarner will be a rental at the deadline, and he’ll almost certainly be traded.

What’s He Going to Cost?

Gosh, I really don’t know. He’s kind of a weird case: he has name value, October pedigree and a track record of success with a limited injury history. However, there are also signs of real decline, he has thrown a lot of innings (he’s “older” than your normal 29-year-old), and he’s not controlled beyond this season.

With so few teams actually trying, I’m not sure how robust the starting pitching trade market will actually be, either. It’s weird.

Anyway, I’m not sure what it would take to get him to New York, but I’d have to imagine that Clint Frazier would be where the conversation starts. I’m high on Frazier and probably wouldn’t pull the trigger, but I don’t think I’d be outraged if the Yanks went for it here. Other names to watch include Estevan Florial and Deivi Garcia as a potential headliner, but that still feels like a lot. The Yanks system is loaded with young, high-velocity arms as well, which always make for good trade bait.

This is all to say that the Yanks definitely have the pieces to get this done, but I’m not sure which combination would do it, but hey, that’s why I write words on the Internet for fun and don’t work in a front office.

Does He Make Sense?

Yes, he does. When I started this post, I was convinced that I’d see more signs of decline than I actually do. Folks, look at what happens when you do research. You learn things and maybe even change your mind.

Anyway, there’s enough here that I think you could get a very productive pitcher for the second half of the season. His velocity is up, he’s missing more bats, and, better yet, both of those figures are climbing back up toward where he was at his peak. Those are encouraging signs, even if his ground ball rate is down and his HR rate is up. Certainly enough to take a flier on, in my opinion.

Finally, he’s durable and gives innings. As I said earlier, even in 2019, he’s averaging over 6 innings per start and could help give the Yanks that stable, steadying force in the rotation that they so lack right now.

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