Yes, the Yankees and Brian Cashman are feverishly working the phones to secure more pitching. But behind the scenes, other significant decisions loom…
The Yankees focus over the next three days is undeniable. Get pitching, whether it’s starting pitching, bullpen help, or both, all eyes are set on Brian Cashman.
But lurking in the background are several questions Cashman, and the Yankees will need to answer over the next two months. Each question deserves an answer – and the ones the Yankees provide will have a significant effect on how far the team goes in October.
First and foremost is Domingo German and how to use him to keep him fresh, but not arm weary. Before German’s start on Sunday against the Red Sox, German had logged 91.2 innings over 16 starts. That’s not an abnormal number of innings for any starting pitcher at this stage of a season.
The trouble is that it’s already more innings than he pitched last year (85.2) and dangerously close to his highest ever total in the minors (123.1).
In German’s previous start against the Twins, he blew his ERA up to 4.03, managing only 3.2 innings while surrendering eight runs. Ironically, he did not suffer a loss as the Yankee bats responded in a 14-12 slugfest win. (Source: Baseball-Reference)
Thus, the question. Who is Domingo German? Is he Luis Severino (still on the IL), who has faded in each of his last two seasons including the playoffs. Or is he one of those rubber arm guys who can pitch with ease – forever? The Yankees don’t know. They are about to find out.
Secondly, which of the Yankees position players are awarded a spot in the starting lineup for Game One in any playoff series? Does DJ LeMahieu start at third base forcing Gio Urshela to the bench, with Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Gleyber Torres at second base, and Luke Voit at first?
In the outfield, does Aaron Boone give the nod to the tried and true veteran, Brett Gardner, assuming he’s healthy, over the defensive ability of Mike Tauchman in left field? And what of Giancarlo Stanton when he returns? Does he replace an outfielder, or clog up the DH spot?
Then, there’s Luis Severino and Dellin Betances. Both are expected to be ready to return to a full regimen of baseball activity soon. Where do they fit in?
Will Severino have the arm strength built to be a trusted starter? And how smoothly will Aaron Boone be able to “introduce” Betances into the upper tier of his bullpen, without upsetting the flow he has and continues to establish there?
Is James Paxton the second coming of Sonny Gray with the deer in the headlights look when he’s pitching in Pinstripes? Or, will he be able to overcome his heritage of comfortably pitching in the Northwest Territory where no one cares about the Seattle Mariners?
And what of CC Sabathia – the Yankee’s Warrior? Is he running on fumes, or is he saving the best for last? And will those rocky and bended knees make it to the end?
Aaron Boone: Who Do You Trust?
If you are Aaron Boone, your list is a lot longer than mine, and your charge is to have answers to all of these questions by October, regardless of what Brian Cashman does or does not do to tweak your roster.
In the prelude to the playoffs, of which the Yankees will surely earn a spot, management of players becomes the ultimate challenge facing a manager. Move ’em in, move ’em out of the lineup – it doesn’t matter much now.
But come October, every move is heightened under the glare of the moment. Boone, in fact, found this out in last year’s playoffs on questionable calls he made regarding who he pitched when and where.
In that respect, the Yankees season is not only on the line as they face the charge of the Boston Red Sox. It’s also, and maybe even more significantly, on the line with how Boone, together with his coaching staff, handles the question – Who do you trust? – and where and in what situations do you trust them – so that when the bell rings in October the Yankees are firing on all cylinders.
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