James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

With their recent skid this June, fingers are being pointed at the New York Yankees starting pitching. However, it was all planned this way.

Allison Case

The New York Yankees made their 2019 season focus very clear this past offseason.

It wasn’t adding huge sluggers to the lineup. It wasn’t beefing up their starting pitching. It was building up that power bullpen so, that late in the game, the pitching would be lights-out, just like Tropicana Field.

And that bullpen has done its job for the Yankees. With power arms like Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton leading up to Aroldis Chapman, there is no reason to sweat. These guys have it handled.

But what the Yankees failed to remember is that sometimes how the game starts is far more important. And in that aspect, they have failed miserably this season.

We all know their starting pitching has been putrid but just how disappointing has it been? Well, in the 69 games the Yankees have played so far this season, they’ve had their starter go seven-plus innings just seven times.

And just to make things extra complicated, the starter who has had the most seven-plus inning outings has been none other than J.A. Happ.

But this is how the New York Yankees planned it. Who cares how many innings these starters go? The sooner they can get to this flashy bullpen, the better!

This offseason consisted of inking CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ to short-term deals, two pitchers who are on the wrong side of 30 but have a great clubhouse presence. There’s no way either of these guys is going to put up consistent lengthy starts and that’s exactly how the Yankees planned it.

That was the mentality going into the season and it’s been the mentality even now, as the Yankees starting staff has dwindled down to four. Instead of panicking, the Yankees front office must be cheering because this is exactly what they wanted: more innings from their hot ‘pen.

New York Yankees

This all could have been rectified. There were certainly impressive pitching names available this offseason and even some up until last month (Dallas Keuchel, anyone?). Yet the Yankees wanted to focus on their bullpen and keep the end of the game locked down when, instead, they should’ve been focusing on the beginning of the game.

It’s become incredibly clear now that the Yankees’ starting pitching is in severe trouble. While starting off the season pretty well, the Yankees are now down to four starters, all of whom are essentially hit-or-miss on any given day.

But that’s what they’ve signed on for. Why else would they choose Sabathia and Happ over a plethora of other options to help bolster that rotation? Naturally, the Yankees were unaware of Luis Severino succumbing to injury early on. But they knew what they were ultimately getting into.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Yankees have to shift their focus. What was important to them this offseason is the difference and the real problem has become glaringly obvious. If the Yankees don’t come out of the end of July with a reliable starting pitcher, it will be a huge missed opportunity.

Strategies change as the season progresses and the Yankees need to adjust. It’s fine to pursue starters who won’t give length but they have to be reliable. Right now, they aren’t.

Now we sit back and let Brian Cashman work his magic, although it probably should’ve been done in the offseason. It’s about time they change their approach to the game and, if anything, In Cash We Trust.

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