High and Inside…or maybe a little Outside…

Here is a random wish list for pitching targets leading up to the trading deadline. I know that a couple of the names are untouchable. I guess if I am going without restriction, I should place Clayton Kershaw at the top of the list. Nevertheless, this is fantasyland so here’s my list. All of these pitchers are right-handers which really wasn’t by design. I wouldn’t even say that these are my top five choices. They are, however, five pitchers that I feel could provide an upgrade.

YU DARVISH — Texas Rangers

Darvish is 30 and will be an unrestricted free agent this fall. He is 4–2 with 2.76 ERA and 1.091 WHIP. With Tommy John surgery in his recent past, he’ll carry the injury risk tag for the res t7 of his career. Darvish is still one of the best pitchers in the AL. I loved the guy when he came over from Japan and wished at the time the Yankees had been more aggressive in pursuit of him.

It’s been said that Darvish could be the key to the team eventually signing Japanese superstar and two-way ace Shohei Otani, referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth.

The downside to Darvish is his age (at this point of the Yankees rebuild and potential off-season cost to re-sign. You’ll obviously have to pay quality prospects for the potential short-term rental assuming the Texas Rangers are even motivated to trade him at the deadline.

CARLOS CARRASCO — Cleveland Indians

Carrasco is also 30. This is total fantasy as the Indians, a World Series caliber contender, are not going to part with a critical rotation piece. There’s no doubt the Yankees have long held interest in Carrasco. The right-hander is 4–2 this season with 2.60 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

CHRIS ARCHER — Tampa Bay Rays

Archer is 28 and is a better fit age-wise. But I think he’s untouchable for any AL team due to the heavy premium the Rays would attach to him to trade him inside the division. But if the Yankees could get him, I would be ecstatic. Archer is 3–2 this season with 3.70 ERA and 1.217 WHIP. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

JON GRAY — Colorado Rockies

If I could have my pick of any pitcher, it might be Gray. I am convinced the 25-year-old Gray is an ace-in-the-making. He’ll be held back from ever reaching his full potential as long as he calls the Mile High City his home. In a very small body of work this season, Gray is 0–0 with 4.38 ERA and 1.459 WHIP. He only pitched 12 1/3 innings before going on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot. Gray has begun his bullpen sessions and will soon be back on the active roster for Colorado. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Interestingly enough, Gray, like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, is a former Yankees draft pick. The Yankees picked him in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He didn’t sign and was subsequently a number one pick for the Rockies the next year.

VINCE VELASQUEZ — Philadelphia Phillies

The youngest pitcher on my list (24), Velasquez is 2–3 this year with 5.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Forget the stats, the guy has the potential to be a long term fixture in any team’s rotation. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

This isn’t meant to be a ranking of desired pitchers. I am just randomly throwing out some names. Granted, if any team’s first request is Gleyber Torres and is unwilling to budge, it’s discussion over. But Clint Frazier I am not as attached to. With Aaron Judge in the Majors with an assist by Aaron Hicks, and the promise of outfielder Dustin Fowler, I think the Yankees have the necessary ingredients for a good outfield now and for the next few years particularly considering a potential costly run at Bryce Harper in a couple of years when he hits the free agent market. My favorite outfield prospect, Blake Rutherford, is further away but he’ll be a ready replacement when the time comes. So, if I could package Frazier in a deal to bring a quality starting pitcher and maybe a dependable bullpen arm, I’d do it. Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole and Tony Watson represent a combo that would be worth the inclusion of a top prospect. And, no, Gerrit Cole is not Ivan Nova.

I am sure that we’ll be hearing many names ad nauseam over the next two months. But regardless of what happens, it will be much better to be a buyer at the trading deadline than a seller if the team keeps playing well. Exciting times in the Bronx.

The Yankees are hopeful that first baseman Greg Bird will be able to begin baseball activities next week. That’s good news to hear. Hopefully Bird has fully recovered and is ready to recapture the form he showed during Spring Training when he led the Grapefruit League in home runs. Bird has already started light running so it should be a sign that the ankle bone bruise has healed. I am looking forward to seeing what a healthy Bird can do.

The Yankees concluded their three-game stay in Kansas City with a loss, falling to the Royals 5–1. I knew they were in trouble when Danny Duffy struck out the first three batters of the game. Duffy threw a scoreless three-hitter over seven innings and recorded his first career double-digit strikeout total with ten. The Yankees scored their only run against KC closer Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning on a Didi Gregorius single.

Jordan Montgomery (2–3) lasted five innings in taking the loss. He allowed four hits, five runs and three walks (with 4 K’s). The killer was a three-run homer by Mike Moustakis in the fifth inning. His replacement, Chad Green, was stellar in pitching the final three innings. He only gave up a meaningless single in the sixth, a runner subsequently erased by double play. He struck out six. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Green could replace Montgomery in the rotation.

Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees (24–14) maintained their lead in the AL East over the Baltimore Orioles (1 1/2 games) and Boston Red Sox (4 games) as all three teams lost on Thursday. The Yankees did win the series, taking two of three, however, I always hate to see a loss on “Getaway Day” as that’s the game fresh on everyone’ mind for the flight to the next city.

The Yankees begin a three-game series in St Petersburg, Florida tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays (21–22). Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees: Luis Severino (2–2, 3.86 ERA)

Rays: Erasmo Ramirez (2–0, 2.92 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5–2, 5.80 ERA)

Rays: Matt Andriese (3–1, 3.18 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees: CC Sabathia (3–2, 4.93 ERA)

Rays: Chris Archer (3–2, 3.70 ERA)

Have a great Friday! Hopefully Sevy finds a way to slay the Rays!