And it couldn’t be more true in recent years. Before Gerrit Cole’s arrival, this team hadn’t had a true ace for a long time. But general manager Brian Cashman did his best to try and reinforce the rotation on multiple occasions. Inexplicably, many of the moves didn’t work out.
Fans simply can no longer blame him for previous trades and signings that blew up in the Yankees’ face. If you want to blame anybody, take aim at the coaching staff.
Why are we even talking about this? Because former Yankee JA Happ nearly threw a no-hitter as a member of the Minnesota Twins on Friday night. While his bid ended after 7.1 innings, care to know his stats through his first three starts with his new team?
He’s 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 10 strikeouts across 16 innings of work. That’s against the Tigers, Red Sox and Pirates.
Though Happ had good stretches here and there with New York, he rarely ever delivered when the team needed it — in other words, he failed against the Red Sox, which was supposed to be his bread and butter, and he was terrible in the postseason.
All in all, he finished his Yankees career 21-10 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 51 games (50 starts). In the playoffs? On top of being overall terrible in the ALDS, he gave up the famous Carlos Correa walk-off homer in Game 2 of the ALCS. Many would argue that’s not worth $17 million per year.
But forget about Happ. He’s just the latest to remind us of this. Let’s not forget Sonny Gray, who was acquired from the Athletics and delivered absolutely nothing in pinstripes. He was later traded to the Reds and quickly became a Cy Young-caliber arm once again.
Lance Lynn … remember him? Shortly after the Yankees let him hit free agency after his mediocre half-season in the Bronx (4.14 ERA in 11 games, nine of which were starts), he quickly became one of the best pitchers in baseball. He owns a 3.40 ERA across his last 49 starts with the Rangers and White Sox.
And finally! Nathan Eovaldi. He was with the team briefly from 2015-2016, but didn’t move the needle for the rotation. Then he was designated for assignment and scooped up by the Rays, who traded him to the Boston Red Sox after 10 starts. Eovaldi would proceed to own the Yankees in his starts with Boston and help bring that city a World Series with an epic postseason run in 2018.
Maybe the Yankees are cursed when it comes to attempting to acquire stable arms to fortify their rotation? All the aforementioned pitchers seemed to have performed just fine literally everywhere else they’ve been. Maybe it’s the pressure of New York. Maybe the Yankees’ coaching staff can’t help players hone their craft (we’d likely believe that to be the answer).
But stop blaming Cashman. He’s done nothing but make cost-effective trades to put this team in a good position from a pitching standpoint. The fact they haven’t worked out has nothing to do with him.