The final installment of the 2018 Subway Series commenced Friday night with the non-waiver trade deadline looming 11 days off and both teams fairly involved in deal chatter. So it was little surprise that even with the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez and Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes both returning from injury, the teams’ starting pitching stood front and center.
The Yankees took their cuts at getting Manny Machado from the Orioles, but upgrading the rotation is their top priority. Domingo German and Sonny Gray, the Yanks’ pitchers for the first two games, have been most scrutinized and their rotation spots could be in jeopardy. .
German’s ERA is up to 5.68 after giving up four runs in 3 2⁄3 innings Friday. Though Gray is coming off six scoreless innings on July 11, he carries a 5.46 ERA.
“[German] has shown us flashes of some great, great pitching. He’s had some quality outings for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s had some struggles, no doubt about it.”
That said, Boone was asked about the state of trade talks and replied: “I know from [principal owner] Hal [Steinbrenner] to [general manager Brian Cashman], they are exhausting every option, having conversations with all the teams . . . I have complete trust they’ll do what’s best for the organization and that no leaf is going to go unturned. They’re addressing every option, I know that.”
The Mets, in the NL East basement, are fielding calls from contenders who covet the young starting pitching that was to be the cornerstone for many successful years.
Closer Jeurys Familia was held out of Friday night’s Subway Series game because of an imminent trade, manager Mickey Callaway said following the 7-5 Mets victory.
Assistant GM John Ricco said before the game that the trade market responded to the Dodgers’ acquisition of Machado on Thursday with “a lot of phone calls.”
Sunday’s starter, ace Jacob deGrom, and Friday night’s starter, Noah Syndergaard, have long been the most-sought and the team’s biggest ask. And the Mets haven’t seemed ready to deal lefty Steven Matz. However, Zack Wheeler’s stock has ticked upward during the past six weeks; He has a 3.68 ERA in his last eight starts, including twice throwing seven scoreless innings.
Ricco said the Mets hadn’t completely ruled out a trade of deGrom or Syndergaard: “While I don’t think it’s likely, we still have a few weeks to go here and we’ll see. We’re looking at all ways to make the club better.”
Asked about Wheeler’s recent performance, he said: “We didn’t really have him out there as a trade piece prior, so I can’t tell you how it’s changed, but he’s really settled in as a reliable starter. He’s starting to show the consistency to go along with the high level of talent he had. It’s a big credit to [manager] Mickey [Callaway] and to [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] and so that type of pitcher is valuable.”
A high-ceiling prospect acquired from the Giants in the 2011 trade of Carlos Beltran, the Mets are invested in Wheeler. He’s made 84 starts over parts of four seasons but also missed significant time to an elbow injury and subsequent surgery. Trading Wheeler when he’s finally blossoming could be tough.
“There’s no doubt about that. This is the pitcher we always hoped we’d have, the guy who goes out there and gives you seven innings of dominant stuff and is still throwing 98 in the sixth and seventh innings,” Ricco said. “While it increases the value to other teams, it certainly increases the value to us and makes us think about what his role would be.”
Ricco and the Mets are going to listen for the next week and a half. And the assistant GM said that the club’s priority in trading will be “upper-level minor-league talent” to the point the club would include money in deals.
However Callaway sounds like a guy who has looked forward to managing this rotation and finally is getting to see all it can be.
Asked if he’d like to see the front office keep the starting staff together, Callaway left no dispute.
“I would,” he said. “I think we have some really good starting pitchers and it’s fun to watch them go out and compete each night. We value all of them.”