All eyes are on Manny Machado right now but the New York Yankees need to focus elsewhere if they expect to win this year.
Seasoning. It’s the integral part of a recipe or the key to allowing a cigar to reach its full, flavorful potential by giving it time in a humidor. It’s also what a good but inconsistent young pitcher can require to reach his full potential.
Domingo German has been both Jekyll and Hyde for The Yankees this season. Well, Mr. Hyde showed up and surrendered 6 earned runs and walked four in four innings against the Indians on Friday night. Call it another bold underline under the words “Starting Pitcher” in Brian Cashman’s notebook.
We all know that when the clock strikes October, expecting your offense, with or without Manny Machado, to dig itself out of four-run holes against the likes of Chris Sale, Justin Verlander or Charlie “Koufax” Morton is delusional at best. Even in July and even with a mighty bullpen, having your starting pitcher showered by the 5th inning isn’t going to cut it and will wear down the mightiest of relief corps over the long haul.
No, being a Yankee team that came within one game of a World Series last season and with very high expectations this season means you don’t leave things to chance. You don’t hope that Masahiro Tanaka finds it again or depend on CC Sabathia to rescue you. You go out and get the best available arm you can.
The Yankees like German’s swing-and-miss stuff and many within the organization feel he could pleasantly surprise them and turn into a solid number three in the rotation. But right now, the kid is struggling to get ahead of batters, trust his stuff and be consistent. Mix in the fact that Luis Severino has looked mortal in his last two starts along with the jury still being out on Tanaka and Sonny Gray and what you get are lots of question marks. Question marks don’t win pennants and they certainly don’t win World Series.
The field for top-flight starting pitching seems to have thinned over the last week or so with the likes of Toronto’s J.A. Happ pitching poorly and the New York Mets supposedly holding out for a resurrected Babe Ruth for Jacob deGrom. Texas’ Cole Hamels is looking more viable, if the Rangers will pick up a nice chunk of the approximately $40 million he’s owed through 2019.
On the home front, if, as widely reported, the Yankees are unwilling to include Justus Sheffield in any package for Manny Machado, they obviously view him as “untouchable.” Which begs the question, why not bring him up and see what he can do? CC Sabathia has openly been calling for Sheffield to be called up as he thinks the 24-year-old lefty is ready for the big leagues right this moment.
It may be wise for The Yankees to give Sheffield a start after the break to see what’s what. Maybe the answer for the Yankees is in Scranton, not Dallas or Queens.
However, things unfold. The Yankees being the Yankees means they are unlikely to cross their fingers and stand pat.