If Brian Cashman can somehow lasso Kimbrel or Chapman into the Bronx, his New York Yankees would automatically become AL favorites.
By Robby Sabo
Thursday afternoon marked the first time in five seasons the New York Yankees swept a three game set against the Baltimore Orioles. Some might say they took the paddle out on Buck Showalter’s club this week, ending in a 9-3 trouncing.
The Yanks are now sporting a 53-41 record and enjoy a six-game lead over the second place Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.
Winning eight of their last 10, the Yankees are rolling.
Incredible stuff considering how old this club is and the very-well deserved low expectations heading into the 2015 MLB campaign.
Nevertheless, Joe Girardi’s squad has stayed healthy and is thriving on their strengths. The area many are looking for Brian Cashman to reinforce prior to next week’s trade-deadline is starting pitching.
The lineup has been stupendous (425 runs, fourth in MLB), the defense has carried its own weight, and the bullpen has been lights out. Naturally, this starting staff, which ranks 20th in baseball with a 4.19 ERA, needs to be improved.
Cashman though, needs to, and should think out of the box.
Rewind the clock to last October. A team from the American League who boasted a starting staff of average proportions made a run for the ages.
The real reason Kansas City did what they did – as everybody knows – can directly be attributed to that nasty bullpen.
Once the Royals entered sixth-inning territory with the lead the game was as good as done. Or, as Howie Rose often shouts out, Yost could then “put it in the books.”
A great bullpen, solid defense, smarts on the base-paths and timely hitting is what’s been trending upwards during Fall baseball as of late. Cashman knows this, and because he prides himself on knowing the ins-and-outs of the game at the big league level, he will go hard after another bullpen arm.
Why not make your strength an even scarier strength?
Another piece of information that came down on Thursday has the Yankees and Cincinnati Reds discussing an Aroldis Chapman flight to the Bronx. While this idea is based purely on speculation – via Dave Schoenfield of ESPN – the two teams match up perfectly with one another.
Although most believe Cash won’t want to part with any of his big-five prospects (Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, Jorge Mateo and Gary Sanzhez), it’s hard to believe he won’t allow one of them to fly away considering what can be had in 2015.
One of those five is exactly what the doctor ordered in Cincy.
Betances is currently sporting a 1.40 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 51.1 innings. Miller’s line looks like this: 1.63 ERA and 53 strikeouts in just 33.1 innings pitched.
Furthermore, both Betances and Miller would be completely willing to pitch in the setup roles if either of those closers are acquired.
Bullpen strength is a formula that’s been raging in baseball the past several seasons. No longer do lineups actually patiently wait out starters in effort to get to the bullpen.
The reason is quite simple: it seems more reliever arms are throwing in the mid to high 90s these days.
Acquiring Kimbrel or Chapman would be a formula that would allow more pressure to be taken off the starting arms. It’s also a formula Cashman witnessed first hand in the late 1990s, as he rose through the organization as a young whippersnapper.
John Wetteland, Mariano Rivera, Bob Wickman, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd and Ramiro Mendoza did it better than anybody in 1996.
Shortening games and putting more pressure on high-powered offenses will once again rule the playoffs.
The only question that remains is whether Cashman will pull the trigger or not. It could be the last piece in making the New York Yankees: the 2015 World Series Champions.
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Photo by Keith Allison