Barring a collapse, the Yankees will be part of the postseason. Unless they fall apart, they will win the AL East for the first time in seven years.
With an eight-game lead in the loss column over the second-place Rays as the season resumes on Friday following the All-Star break, manager Aaron Boone’s team may cruise to October. But that doesn’t mean July is about merely keeping the status quo.
In fact, this month — and in particular the July 31 trade deadline — could go a long way toward determining the 57-31 Yankees’ October fate.
It’s no secret general manager Brian Cashman would like to upgrade his rotation — this juggernaut’s Achilles’ heel — and there should be a series of intriguing options available.
“You hear the name Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians. He’s a good pitcher. You hear the name Marcus Stroman. He’s another good pitcher. Those are the two names I’ve heard the most,” YES Network analyst Ken Singleton said. “I think either one of them can help. There’s no doubt they are seasoned pitchers. Stroman has pitched in the AL East, and Bauer has been on good Cleveland teams for a number of years. What’s the price? Who knows? It might be too steep.”
There are other names expected to be in play, such as Mets righty Zack Wheeler and Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner, a four-time All-Star with a lifetime postseason ERA of 2.11. Cashman has made it a habit of adding pieces in July, particularly when he believes he has a team capable of winning it all.
“When he feels there’s a deal he can make to help the Yankees, he’s going to make it,” Singleton said. “This is where he’s been one of the best general managers in baseball, if not the best. He always seems to be at the top of his game when it comes to making deals.
“I think it would make it easier on them in the second half,” Singleton said about the Yankees acquiring a starting pitcher. “They would be able to hold off Boston and Tampa easier with someone reliable every fifth day to bolster your rotation.”
Just as important, Singleton believes, is the Yankees getting whole. That means getting back essential pieces such as slugger Giancarlo Stanton, starting pitcher Luis Severino and reliever Dellin Betances. Severino and Betances have yet to pitch this season, as both have dealt with shoulder and lat problems.
Stanton, the 2017 National League MVP, has dealt with a variety of injuries and just recently returned to the injured list with a PCL strain in his right knee. He’s managed to appear in just nine games this year, as he’s dealt with that right knee issue, along with a torn left biceps, a strained left shoulder and a left calf strain.
“I would like to see the team get as healthy as possible, so they can realize their full potential in the postseason,” Singleton said. “If all these guys return and return to the point they can actually contribute and get going like they have in the past, they would be big additions.
“Stanton seemed like he was starting to get going and he got hurt again. We haven’t seen Severino all season long — that’s a problem. If Betances comes back, it would deepen the bullpen even more. Those sort of things I’m looking forward to and hoping they come to fruition.”