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How Jordan Montgomery’s injury impacts the Yankees

Ryan Leonardo

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees received some shocking and disappointing news Tuesday when it was announced that starter Jordan Montgomery would undergo Tommy John Surgery, ending his season.

It’s a significant blow to Montgomery, who has been one of the most underappreciated Yankees since the start of the last season. He led all rookie pitchers in fWAR last season with 2.7 in 29 starts. Montgomery isn’t projected back until the end of the 2019 season. It’s not unrealistic to think he won’t be in the Yankees plans until 2020.

The left-hander was placed on the disabled list on May 2nd, with the righty Domingo German filling in. German threw six hitless innings against the Cleveland Indians in his first big league start but hasn’t pitched well since. He has allowed 19 earned runs in 21 innings over his last four starts. The Yankees don’t want him to have to make 20-plus starts through the end of the season. German has shown talent in his starts, and in his most recent start against Detroit on June 4th, he pitched well into the seventh. But it’s hard to develop starting pitching in the majors and win a World Series the same year.

That leaves the Yankees hurting for a starting pitcher. It had long been speculated that the Yankees will go after a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, but Montgomery didn’t deserve to get booted. It was also debatable whether any of the starters the Yankees could conceivably acquire would displace Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia from the postseason rotation. Additionally, the starting pitching market has so far not developed with really no impact starters available, that includes Texas’ Cole Hamels and Detroit’s Michael Fulmer.

But now, the Yankees are in a really tough spot with the Montgomery injury. They could wait until the deadline for the starting pitcher market to develop to get an impact pitcher, but it may not develop the way they want it. Entering play Wednesday, everyone in the National League was within a game of .500 except the Mets, Marlins, Reds and Padres. Out of those four teams only the Padres’ Tyson Ross seems like a solid addition. In the American League, the aforementioned Hamels and Fulmer will likely be available. The Royals might try to dangle Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy, but neither  have pitched well.

The big get may be the Rays’ Chris Archer, but he is having a down year and was placed on the disabled list on June 5th. More concerning is that the Rays may not want to trade their ace within the division. The Yankees reportedly tried to trade for Fulmer in the offseason, but he is also having a down year. He is arbitration-eligible through 2022, so it might take a big package to acquire him regardless of his performance. The starting pitching that is projected to be available is underwhelming to say the least.

If Montgomery was healthy, they could take their time for the market to develop and wait for the best deal to present itself. Maybe a deal never materializes, such as what happened in 2015, when the Yankees were in first place over the Blue Jays but hung on to their prospects. They could have looked to add a relief pitcher, or two, instead.

With Montgomery’s injury, however, the Yankees no longer have a choice. They must acquire a starter to displace German if they want to win the AL East. It’s going to take having the best record in baseball to win the division and avoid the one-game playoff of the wild card. It’s hard to do that with just four starters.

They also need to look forward to 2019 with Montgomery on the shelf for such a long time. Sabathia is also a free agent after 2018. So the Yankees will likely have two spots in the rotation to fill after the season. The Yankees could reasonably splurge for starting pitching in the 2018-19 offseason. Maybe top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield will be ready at some point next season. They do have options with how to fill out the rotation in the future.

But for 2018, the Yankees don’t have options, flexibility or enough starting pitching. They need a starter, badly. Unfortunately, it may force the Yankees to settle for a less than perfect option.

I am a Yankees, Giants and Nets fan. My dad is a Mets, Jets and Knicks fan. I assure you we are cool.

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New York Yankees

Series preview | The Rays pay another visit to Yankee Stadium

Matt Gregory

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees continue an 11 game homestand Tuesday night with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx. It is the last time Tampa Bay will visit Yankees stadium.

The Yankees have struggled against the Rays this season, as they have split 12 games so far, going 6-6. The Rays most recently took two of three back in July at Tropicana field. The Yankees received some bad news Monday, with CC Sabathia going to the disabled list with a knee injury.

The Rays starters have not been set yet, as they tend to use openers, and they only have two starters in their “rotation.” One of those starters is Blake Snell, who is a probable starter for the rubber game on Thursday. Snell has taken the leap this year, making the American League All-Star team and a stellar 2.18 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 128 innings.

However, Snell has struggled against the Yankees to the tune of nine earned runs in 8 1/3 innings of work, he walked seven batters in those starts and given up four home runs, the most he has given up against any team. The other possibilities for those two other starts could be Ryne Stanek, Jake Faria, Sergio Romo or Yonny Chirinos.

The Yankees are on track to run out J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and Lance Lynn. Happ has been solid thus far for the Yankees, sporting a 3.00 ERA with 0.75 WHIP since coming over from Toronto. He bounced against the Texas Rangers after a bout of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease, going six innings and only giving up three earned runs.

That was exactly what the Yankees signed up for when they acquired him from Toronto on July 26th. Happ has been successful against the Rays, with a 2.53 ERA in two starts, though he walked seven batters in those two starts.

Masahiro Tanaka looks to bounce back on Wednesday from a rough start against the Rangers where he was tattooed for six runs in 5 innings of work, with three home runs surrendered. Tanaka looked like a different pitcher coming out of the All-Star break, giving up one earned run through 19 2/3 innings with 26 strikeouts and only one home run against him. The Rays could be a welcome sight, last time against the rays he pitched a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts and only four runners allowed.

The rubber game on Thursday should feature Lance Lynn. Lynn was another deadline acquisition for the Yankees in a trade with the Minnesota Twins for Tyler Austin. Through 16 2/3 innings, Lynn has given up one run and struck out 22 batters against four walks. Lynn has already surpassed his WAR total with the Twins in 3 games with the Yankees, as he has been worth .8 WAR since coming to New York.

He has taken Sonny Gray’s spot in the rotation and has not looked back. If Lynn can continue to provide steady 5-6 inning starts with limited damage, much less the performances he has provided thus far, then the Yankees will be in good shape.

The top performers for the Yankees offensively out of the All-Star break have been Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.
Stanton has hit five home runs in the last seven days and is slashing .313/.382/.750 in August, picking up the slack with Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge on the disabled list. Gregorius has hit well against the Rays, with a slash line of .318/.362/.614 and three home runs with 13 runs batted in.

The goal for the Yankees? Come out of the series healthy and hopefully with a series win as they try to right the ship against the Rays.

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New York Yankees

Mets 8 Yankees 5 | Severino falters again

Matt Gregory

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Severino struggled yet again and failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time this season as the Yankees lost to the Mets on Monday night. The Yankees were able to scrape three runs out against Jacob DeGrom but Severino gave back four runs on two home runs. DeGrom struck out 12 Yankees in 6 2/3 innings of work. The Yankees look to bounce back tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx.

Turning Point

The sixth inning, when A.J. Cole gave up three home runs and allowed the Mets to stretch their lead to four runs. The Yankees had kept it close against DeGrom and would have had a shot if Cole had kept the deficit to just one run.

Three Takeaways

1. Severino struggled to get batters out with his four-seam fastball. Five of the seven hits came on four-seam fastballs with only three swinging strikes. He got 10 swinging strikes on his off-speed offerings. Whether he is tipping pitches or not, it seems like hitters are looking for his four-seamer and leaving his off-speed pitches alone, as he only got four called strikes between his change-up and slider.

2. A.J. Cole is having a rough August, he gave up three home runs in two innings and has given up six earned runs in only 7 innings this month. Two of the home runs came against lefties in the Mets lineup, which is the norm for Cole, as lefties are slashing .338/.421/.708 this season. He came into the game down one run and left the Yankees trailing by four runs in the seventh inning.

3. Gleyber Torres’ bat has gone dead in August, to the tune of .146 batting average with six hits and thirteen strikeouts in 41 at-bats. Torres has struggled since the All-Star break, with a .164 batting average and a .278 on-base percentage. Obviously, he is still working back from his injury before the all-star break, but he was a big part of the early year success and will need to get back to improve for the stretch run.

Player of the Game

Aaron Hicks scratched out two singles against Jacob DeGrom and drove in the first run for the Yankees. He reached base three times overall as he drew a walk in the eighth inning. The singles were not particularly hard-hit balls, but against DeGrom you take what you can get. He has a .402 OBP since the all-star break and is on pace to set a career high in WAR.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees are still dropping the ball regarding social issues

Matt Gregory

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Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans wave flags on pride night during the first inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at O.co Coliseum. Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Tuesday, SNY.tv reported that the Yankees are planning to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with events in 2019. There have been no confirmations for the 2019 promotional calendar but SNY.tv states that several sources confirmed internal discussions to finalize the details of the events.

The Yankees later announced that they were reinstating their relationship with Papa John’s late Friday night, according to NJ.com. The move comes less than a month after suspending the relationship after finding out the face of the brand and CEO, John Schattner, used the n-word during a conference call in May.

A source with knowledge of the situation told NJ.com that there will be a rebranding of some Papa John’s logos in Yankee stadium, specifically to emphasize that the locations at the stadium are “locally owned and operated.”

Here’s the statement the Yankees released:

“As a result of the significant steps recently taken by Papa John’s, including the removal of their founder from all facets of their business, the Yankees have agreed to resume their relationship with the company,” the Yankees said in a statement late Friday night.

As we stated last month, we found the remarks made by the Papa John’s founder to be reprehensible, and our feelings on the matter have not changed.

The Yankees have had a longstanding relationship with 120 Papa John’s local franchise locations within the tri-state area, and we feel strongly that this incident does not represent their principles, values or their responsibilities to the communities they serve.

Papa John’s is implementing important and sincere measures to restore customers’ faith in their brand, including the launch of a diversity and inclusion committee, and a third-party audit of their company’s practices. We are confident the company will continue to take the appropriate measures to show their commitment to preventing such an egregious incident from happening again in the future.”

The move is disappointing and unfortunately, not surprising. The Yankees continue to prioritize their business opportunities and money streams over showing their fans that they do not support a business founded by a man who felt comfortable saying the n-word in a meeting. The move is indefensible and at this point, fans can only hope that there is enough negative feedback that the team will eventually consider severing all ties to the company.

Even with this small step forward to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, it came after backlash that the Yankees were one of two teams to not hold an event in 2018. It is a positive step and hopefully, it is not the last that the Yankees take to honor and work with the LGBTQ+ community. Still, with social issues even when the Yankees take one step forward, they find another way to take two steps back.

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