Brian Cashman doesn’t work his magic before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, the Yankees’ starting pitcher for their first game of the postseason might be Chad Green.
Green might also be the starter for Games 2, 3, 4 . . .
The Yankees went into Tuesday with the best record in the American League. But it’s hard to shake the reality that they don’t have a starting pitcher who can match up with aces such as Justin Verlander of the Astros or Chris Sale of the Red Sox.
J.A. Happ, who got rocked in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox last season, allowed three runs in six innings in a 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. It was one of Happ’s better starts of late, but his ERA is 5.19.
Domingo German is the closest thing the Yankees have to an ace, and he’s staring down the barrel of an innings limit that may curtail his postseason availability in the postseason.
James Paxton has great stuff but hasn’t gotten great results. Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter has gone the way of my hairline – missing in action. (At least he has a shot at getting it back.)
CC Sabathia is on the injured list again. Luis Severino is continuing his slow climb back from his season-long stay on the injured list. Manager Aaron Boone said Severino is “getting close to being on a mound,” which is a long way away from being someone the Yankees can count on in October.
So, with Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer off the board, unless Madison Bumgarner or Noah Syndergaard walks through the clubhouse door in the next few days, the best answer for Cashman might just be to fortify his already formidable bullpen and let Boone go the opener route in the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks, who have an available starter in Robbie Ray, also have attractive bullpen pieces in lefthander Andrew Chafin (who got an out in the eighth) and righthander Archie Bradley (who pitched the final 11⁄3 innings for his first save).
Perhaps Cashman can shop at home and pick up a D-Back or two before Arizona leaves town on Wednesday.
As for the current bullpen, Green has opened eight times this season. The Yankees are 8-0 in those games.
“I would say there are a lot of ways to skin a cat,” Boone said, in an unfortunate phrase that may earn him a scolding from PETA. “We have a lot of really good players and we have what we think is a very capable \[pitching\] staff. We may be creative in the way we do it and maybe not in a traditional way.”
With off days in the postseason, it is possible to pitch six or seven relievers throwing pure gas per game rather than one starter throwing meatballs and putting your team in a hole.
That’s what happened to Boone and the Yankees in last season’s four-game loss to the Red Sox in the ALDS. A then-rookie manager who was quick to go to his bullpen during the regular season inexplicably left his starters in too long — especially Severino in Game 3 and Sabathia in Game 4 — and the Yankees went home while the Red Sox celebrated.
There’s little chance Boone will make that mistake again this postseason. So, if Cashman strikes out on acquiring a big-time starter, get ready for Verlander or Sale vs. Chad Green (and friends).
“Going into the playoffs, we’ll see where we are,” Boone said. “The bottom line is we feel, at that point, we’ll hopefully have a team full of guys capable of — whether it’s in a creative way or in a traditional way — of getting 27 outs every day. That’s the key, and we have the people capable of doing that and pitching very well.”