In the offseason, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will no doubt be looking to add another starting pitcher, but will he be going after the big names?
Some have been talking about Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaard, both of whom are coming off Tommy John surgery. Neither seem like a great bet unless it’s a Corey Kluber-type deal (which, to be honest, is still a little pricey).
In the end, Gerrit Cole needs to be better, but he’s still the best ace this team has seen since CC Sabathia. Nestor Cortes Jr. will need to prove himself in 2022, but he looks to be a key arm Aaron Boone will be deploy in the rotation. Jordan Montgomery’s consistency has him in the mix as one of the most important arms on the staff.
Then there’s Jameson Taillon, who was solid in 2021 but will miss the start of 2022 after undergoing ankle surgery. Can we count on Luis Severino to be healthy? He sure looked good in a relief role at the end of the year after making his return from multiple ailments.
Kluber is likely gone, and Domingo German, Luis Gil and Clarke Schmidt should get starts here and there while filling in as relievers.
But this team has been plagued by injuries and inexplicable regressions. As they say, you really need eight starting pitchers to get through an entire 162-game season plus the playoffs. If Cashman opts to pass on the flashier names with question marks (we can add Carlos Rodon to that list, too), perhaps one option from Colorado that was rumored to land in New York at the trade deadline could be of interest?
Could the Yankees target Jon Gray in free agency this offseason?
You remember the chatter here. After a few months into the season, many believed a Trevor Story-Jon Gray package would be in the cards for the Bombers. In the end, neither will dealt, and now both will hit the open market.
Story could still very well be a fit, but Gray, who’s had an up-and-down career heading into his age-30 season, feels like he could be a Yankees’ target, especially after the work we saw pitching coach Matt Blake do this past season. Maybe a few adjustments can turn Gray into the arm many believed he would be five years ago?
Gray’s splits are intriguing because there’s not much of a difference with anything. He’d held righties to a .740 OPS. He’d held lefties to a .761 OPS. On the road, he owns a 4.65 ERA in 77 starts. At home, at Coors Field, he’s pitched to a 4.54 ERA in 75 games (74 starts).
But there are a few disparities. His best months are May, June and July. His worst are April, August and September. When he’s the winning pitcher, he’s dominant, owning a 2.17 ERA and holding opponents to a .596 OPS. When he’s the losing pitcher, he gets shelled: 8.08 ERA and .946 opposing OPS.
It seems as if throwing his fastball less, his curveball more, and abandoning his changeup could turn things around for the right-hander. Check out these numbers from 2021:
- Four-Seam Fastball (47.6% thrown) – .331 average, .287 XBA, .396 WOBA
- Changeup (8% thrown) – .263 average, .308 XBA, .356 WOBA
- Curveball (6.3% thrown) – .120 average, .231 XBA, .192 WOBA
His slider is by far his best pitch, so he’ll stick with that, but it’s clear when you look at his previous full seasons that limited adjustments were made to help Gray maximize his potential.
If the Yankees feel the price is right (he wants a three- or four-year deal), they might strike and task Blake with turning him around because the answers seem to be laid out in front of us.