TAMPA — At this point, the Yankees are probably not going to add another starter to the roster even though they will not expect Luis Severino back until “at least May,” and CC Sabathia is also scheduled to miss the start of the season.
“We like what we’ve got. We like the guys that we have. We like the ceiling that they have,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said before Friday’s 14-1 win over the Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “It doesn’t mean we’re opposed to outside opportunities if those opportunities match up with our interest level and the assessments of themselves. Does the player and agent assessments match our personal assessments of them? There are a lot of different dynamics … how we value the player, what we think of them versus what they think of themselves, what we think they should be paid, what they think they should be paid versus our needs versus vacancies.”
Obviously Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez are among the available free agents still out there, but realistically even if they were throwing bullpens on their own they would need to be building up innings in games already to contribute in April.
So after Luis Cessa went out and made a strong case for some of those spot starts on Thursday, Domingo German took on the challenge Friday. He threw four scoreless innings, scattering two hits, walking one and striking out six. In four appearances this spring (two starts) German has pitched to a 1.54 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. He has struck out 18 over 11.2 innings pitched and walked two.
Aaron Boone said he thinks he has enough pitching in-house to get through the first month or so.
“Can you really ever have enough? But yeah we feel really good about what’s in house here. We talk about those three guys, (Jonathan Loaisiga), Cessa, and German I feel like have all come in here and certainly met the expectations and the hope for them coming in from the winter,” the Yankee manager said. “They are better pitchers and further along from where they were last year. I feel really good about those three in particular.”
The Yankees are also considering dipping into the packed bullpen and using an “opener.”
“The trick on that trade is make sure whenever you’re using them – because it’s 162 games over a certain course of time – you can match them up with off days and make sure that you have leverage guys available the next day, because you’re trying to win that day’s game but you’re trying to win the next day’s game, too. When you rob Peter to pay Paul, there’s a domino effect,” Cashman said. “So managing through that, if those opportunities present themselves, you’re doing what you can to win today’s game but not at the expense of the next two to three days’ games. That’s the trick of the trade. Those are discussions we are having as well.”
A TWO-STRIKE STRIKE
After a healthy winter in which he was able to tinker with his spring, Aaron Judge has focused on his approach in two-strike situations. The payoff came Friday in the second inning when Red Sox right-hander Adam Lau got two strikes against him. He launched a three-run homer to right-center field.
“Getting results like that are always good, but I am looking more for quality at-bats, making sure I am swinging at the right pitches, taking the right pitches,” said Judge, who has five homers this spring. “ I look more at the process of it and making sure I swing at the right pitches. I am doing that on the two-strike approach and I know it will work out this season.”
It’s the little details like working on his approach in those situations that Boone thinks will help the slugger this season.
“He knows himself really well, was able to really focus on some things, the little things that great players focus on to get a little bit better. I know a big thing for him this winter and this spring, is the two-strike approach,” Boone said earlier this month. “He always has good at-bats. He has from the get-go. It’s really encouraging to see him get some results on some little tweaks he has made to be that much better of a player than he already is.”
CHANGING THE GAME PLAN
Cashman has said many times this spring that he will be open to changes to make this team better until August 31, which was the deadline for waiver wire trades. MLB and the union announced Thursday they have eliminated those trades. The new deadline to make trades will now be July 31.
“It's going to force decisions earlier. We'll just adjust. Tell me what the rules are and we'll make adjustments to them. There will be a new world order. How it shakes out and what the ramifications are — you have the known that's obvious, which will be forcing more deals and then playing with the deck that you're dealt moving forward,” Cashman said. “I believe you can still trade for non 40 man roster players from other clubs in August. Other than that, you're going to be relying on your system that much more. The unknown consequences, we'll live and see. I can't predict that stuff.”
Aroldis Chapman faced a batter on Friday by design. The closer is scheduled to pitch Saturday for his first back-to-back and had been in the bullpen early on Friday. … Catcher Gary Sanchez said he had the normal soreness throughout his body after his first back-to-back games this week. He said his shoulder, which he had surgery on this winter, felt fine and he’s had no issues with it so far this spring. … Cashman visited briefly with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is exploring a possible 2020 run for the presidency, before the game. Schultz, a New York native, is a Yankees fan, Cashman said who has been to spring training before. … The Yankees will have their meeting with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark Saturday.