The Yankees addressed their biggest need at the trade deadline when they boosted their pitching staff and brought in JA Happ and Lance Lynn (and Zach Britton!). The moves have largely worked out, aside from a few bad innings from Britton and Lynn’s relative stinker in his last start, and have forced a struggling Sonny Gray out of the rotation.
Sonny made his first start since the demotion in the nightcap of Saturday’s double-header against the Baltimore Orioles. He was dazzling in his performance, finishing with a line of 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. He looked like the Sonny Gray that they traded for last July.
Sonny has looked anywhere from good to uninspiring in his appearances since being removed from the rotation, Saturday’s start being one of the “good” ones, but I think it’s time we put him back in the rotation for the rest of the regular season.
For starters, Sonny has improved with each month of the season if you discount August due to small sample size (only two starts). He had a 3.44 ERA in July before having a blow-up start against the O’s on August 1.
Let’s just look at ERA and batting average against by month, as those are probably the easiest stats for people to understand.
- April: 6.67 ERA, .289 BAA
- May: 5.16 ERA, .270 BAA
- June: 4.64 ERA, .267 BAA
- July: 3.44 ERA, .214 BAA
He’s been getting better! I think he deserves another start and that the Yankees should turn to a 6-man rotation down the stretch of this season.
The Yankees are very injured as is. Their pitching has maintained a fairly clean bill of health this season: Masahiro Tanaka missed one month, CC Sabathia had a quick DL stint earlier this year and was fake-DL’d last week, and JA Happ missed a start with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which is still hilarious. That said, they don’t really have much of a contingency plan if someone new gets hurt at this point. After Gray, the next options are, regrettably, Luis Cessa, Domingo German, and Johnny Lasagna, all three being either bad or injured (both, in German’s case). Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams have been relegated to the bullpen in an effort to keep them relevant when they come up in September. I also don’t think the Yankees want any of them starting games this year in the big leagues.
Adding in Sonny will give the starters an extra day of rest, limiting injury potential. CC has a bad knee and is old, so getting him extra rest is good. He also said before the season that he would be down for the extra rest. Tanaka has, perhaps infamously, performed considerably better with extra rest. Happ and Lynn are no spring chickens either, so tossing in an extra day can’t hurt. Luis Severino would also benefit from going to a 6-man rotation. Sevy threw far and away the most innings he’s thrown in a season as a professional in 2017 (193.1) and could very well overtake that this year (165.0 IP at the time of this writing). The Yankees should be doing everything they can to keep their 24-year-old ace healthy.
This setup would have all of these guys being that little bit healthier and fresher come the postseason. If Sonny does bad, then they should prioritize winning and scrap the plan, but if Sonny can perform adequately down the stretch and not be single-handedly costing them games, then the extra rest will be a big benefit when the Yanks are playing high-intensity games in October.
I’m so far from saying Sonny should get a playoff start or even be on the roster, but sign me up to have him starting one out of every six games the rest of the way.