New York Yankees Analysis: Cashman’s pitching moves since 2000, the hits and the busts

The New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is the longest-tenured general manager in all of baseball. He has made some amazing acquisitions and trades over his time with the Yankees, but he has also had some terrible misses. To refresh your memory before the 2019 season, he acquired DJ LeMahieu from the Colorado Rockies for one of his best successes ever.

Cashman started with the Yankees as a humble intern in 1986, he impressed George M Steinbrenner, and six years later, he was promoted to the Assistant General Manager.  From that time, he worked hand and hand with then-manager Buck Showalter and “Stick Michael,” building the Yankee dynasty of the late ’90s. He became general manager of the Yankees in 1998. Under his leadership, the New York Yankees have won four World Series championships and six American League pennants.

Today thinking of this Yankees team’s pitching needs, we look at Cashman’s record in finding the starting pitching needs for the Yankees and how successful he was.

1998: Orlando Hernandez

One of the first moves Cashman made after being named general manager in February 1998 was signing Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez when the right-hander defected from Cuba. He was a crucial part of the 1998 team’s dominant rotation as he went 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 21 starts.

2000-2001: Mike Mussina

Cashman’s first great acquisition was Mike “The Moose” Mussina from the Baltimore Orioles. This one move may have been Cashman’s greatest. Mussina pitched successfully for the Yankees for eight years, racking up a 123-72 record. He also won over then games in each of those years. He ended his career with a 20 game winning season in 2008.

2001-2002: Jeff Weaver

If Mike Mussina was one of his best moves, Jeff Nelson turned out to be not so much. Nelson was okay in 2002, but in 2003, he fell apart. It all went south in 2003, though, as Weaver went 7-9 with a 5.99 ERA. He later gave up a walk-off homer in Game 4 of the World Series against the Marlins.

2002-2003: Jose Contreras

Contreras’ overall stat line in ’03 was 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA, but he had a rough postseason, allowing seven runs in eleven innings across his eight appearances. He reverted to being a full-time starter in 2004 but didn’t fare well and was traded to the White Sox. The New York Yankees also acquired Jon Lieber, but he didn’t appear in a game in 2003 as an injury that caused him not to appear for the Yankees until 2004.

2003-2004: Kevin Brown

The 2003 offseason was one of the most difficult for Cashman as he lost both Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to the Houston Astros. He had to make up for the loss, so he traded for Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. Brown pitched well in 2004, going 10-6 but only had 22 starts due to frequent injuries, including the time he punched the wall in the dugout, breaking his hand. He won ALDS Game 3 before getting lit up in games 3 and 7 of the ALCS. He went 4-7 with a 6.50 ERA in 13 starts in 2005 before retiring.

Vazquez was actually an All-Star in 2004 before struggling down the stretch, going 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA. He got the win in relief in ALCS Game 3 before allowing the soul-crushing Johnny Damon grand slam in Game 7. Vazquez would again pitch for the Yankees in 2010. That stint did not go well. Oh, and back to Lieber; he was14-8 with a 4.33 ERA for the Yanks in 2004. He gave up 3 ER over 6.2 innings in a no-decision in ALDS Game 2 against the Twins. Lieber then won ALCS Game 2 against the Sox but took the loss in Game 6. Of the three pitchers mentioned, he was probably best for the Yankees. Whatever the case, all three were gone after the 2004 season.

2004-2205: Randy Johnson

After the huge collapse of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, the Yankees cleaned house. Brown retired from baseball, and Vazquez and Lieber were sent out to dry. Cashman hired the “Big Unit” Randy Johnson, Jeret Wright, and yes, Carl Pavano. Let’s get Pavono out of the way first. He was on the injured list more than the mound and was one of the Yankee’s greatest failures starting only 26 games over five years. Wright went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA. He would make 40 starts over his two seasons in the Bronx, going 16-12 with a 4.99 ERA. Wright didn’t make it out of the third inning in his only postseason start, allowing four runs on five hits as the Tigers eliminated the Yankees in ALDS Game 4 in 2006.

Randy Johnson was a five-time Cy Young Award-winning and led the National League in strikeouts. Johnson was not nearly as good as a Yankee, posting ERA’s of 3.79 and 5.00 in his two seasons with them. The worst part was that he was an utter postseason failure in pinstripes. He got shelled for five runs in just three innings in ALDS Game 3 in ’05, and another five in Game 3 again in ’06. Considering he was hired to be a postseason killer, he was an utter failure with the Yankees.

2007: Kei Igawa

Cashman tried to repair the team in 2007; he did that by getting both Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens back from Houston. He also hired Igawa; rather than bore you, he was one of the worst Yankee acquisitions of all time.

2008-2009: CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett

This is like the tale of two cities, one of the best and one of the worst. Burnett never adjusted to playing for the Yankees in the big spotlight. In his first year, he went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 2009 before pitching to an ERA over 5 in the next two seasons. He was rewarded by being sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Outside of Mike Mussina, CC Sabathia was Cashmans best Yankee signing. He went 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in five starts in the 2009 postseason, during which he was named ALCS MVP. He went on to pitch 11 seasons for the Yankees, making three All-Star teams, leading the league in wins twice, and pitching to an 8-4 record in the postseason. Sabathia was a huge Yankee favorite. In his later years, although not as good, he battled each and every time he hit the mound for the Yankees before retiring last year.

2011-2012: Hiroki Kuroda

After an amazing postseason performance, Cashman signed Michael Pineda was at best a wild story with the New York Yankees, being both brilliant but at the same time horrible. He would have tremendous performances followed by long stretches of misery. He started with a shoulder injury that prevented him from pitching until 2014. Upon his return, he had a 1.89 ERA in 13 games. He never pitched that well again, and the Yankees let him walk in 2018.

Hiroki Kuroda was a consistent veteran presence in the rotation during his three seasons in New York. Kuroda also fared well in the 2012 playoffs, taking a no-decision after firing 8.1 innings of two-run ball in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Orioles. Kuroda was a much better pitcher than the Yankees give him credit for. He played during the years the had some pretty stinky teams.

December 2011 also saw Cashman sign international free agent Luis Severino. The verdict is out of Severino as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. In 2018 he went 19-8 before the surgery. Severino could still be a Yankee great when he returns this season.

2013-2014: Masahiro Tanaka

If there is a toss-up as to the best pitchers on this list between Mussina and Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka surely has to come in third place. Even with an almost immediate partially torn UCL, Tanaka has been one of the most dependable Yankee pitchers even though he was not the ace they thought they were getting. Up until the last two years, Tanaka and CC were the backbones of the Yankee rotation. Tanaka has not been the same pitcher in the past two years and doesn’t go deep into games. At the end of the 2020 season, the New York Yankees did not give him a qualifying offer to remain a Yankee. He isn’t worth near the $23 million he earned last season. That being said, he was good enough that the Yankee might be willing to take him back short term on a much-discounted contract.

2014-2015: Nathan Eovaldi/Domingo German

This could have been the biggest blockbuster move of Brian Cashman’s career, but two things went wrong. Eovaldi was a solid Yankee, going 14-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 2015 and 9-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 2016 before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in August. The Yankees let him walk. After his recovery, he would continue an excellent career.

German is a different story. German would go on to be the best Yankee pitcher in 2019. He went 18-4 but was caught slapping his wife in public, breaking the MLB domestic violence protocol, and ended getting suspended for the remainder of the season while the MLB investigatory body looked at his case. He could have gotten over 20 wins and been a big asset in the postseason. Instead, he was suspended for 81 games, including the entire 2020 season.

2017 Trade deadline: sonny Gray

After being traded from the Oakland A’s, Gray was an immediate disaster under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium and a demanding Yankee fan base. In the remainder of the season, he went 4-7. He failed to make it out of the fourth inning in ALDS Game 1 in Cleveland. When Gray was available, so was aging Justin Verlander; the fact they went after Gray and not Verlander may haunt them forever.

Gray went with the Cincinnati Red where he was back with his old Vanderbilt coach. Out of the bright lights of New York, Gray blossomed. In the past two years, he has gone 16-11 with a 3.07 ERA. Some industry experts are predicting the Yankees may kick that tire again. Possibly under a new coach, Matt Blake, he could be a difference-maker.

2018-2019: Gerrit Cole

Shortly before Christmas 2018, a New York Yankee foursome of Cashman, Boone, Blake, and Andy Pettitte traveled to California bearing gifts. They came out of meetings with Gerrit Cole and his wife with one of the best pitching pickups of the decade. Gerrit Cole was a New York Yankee. In this first shortened season with the Yankees, he pitched well. However, for Cole, a season doesn’t make a career. He was signed for nine years; how that pans out only the future will tell.

2018: J.A. Happ and James Paxton

Let’s end the article here and not talk about them at all.

If you are trying to measure Brian Cashman’s performance, you have to remember it is not based on starting pitching alone. Cashman has also acquired Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, Giancarlo Stanton, Starlin Castro, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, Nick Swisher, Bobby Abreu, Curtis Granderson, Didi Gregorius, DJ LeMahieu, among many others. The bottom like for Yankee fans is that the Yankees have not had a dominant starting rotation since 2009, the last time they won a World Series. This writer believes that if the don’t have a dominant pitching rotation they can not win in the postseason.

The Yankees’ Sony Gray trade comes back to bite them in the butt

Sonny Gray, New York Yankees

Flashback to 2017 when the New York Yankees traded with the Oakland A’s for starting pitcher, Sonny Gray.

Gray had started off his career with Oakland on a dominant note, with 2016 being an exception when he posted a 5.69 ERA. That was following an All-Star selection and ranking third in Cy Young voting with a 2.73 ERA and two shut outs in 2015.

However, when he joined the Yankees, they anticipated Gray bringing his A-game, but that reality did not occur. His first full season with New York ended up being a 4.90 ERA campaign, where he allowed 14 homers and struck out 123 batters over 30 games.

The Yankees allowed Gray to walk in free agency following the 2018 season when he signed a three-year, $30.5 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The short porch in right field was Gray’s worst friend, but he backed up his porous campaign with a 2.87 ERA in 2019 with the Reds. He allowed three more home runs in the year before over 45 more innings, but also struck out 82 more batters.

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Sonny Gray is dominating once again

Fast forward to the present day and Sonny is scheduled to be the Opening Day starter for the Reds when they host the Detroit Tigers on July 24. The former Bomber’s comeback is officially complete after 1-1/2 seasons of disappointing play in the Bronx. When general manager Brian Cashman traded for him from Oakland, he hosted a career average 3.42 ERA.

That number skyrocketed during his tenure with the Yankees, and the Yankees dumping him in free agency was a good move considering his lackluster performance. The Yankees traded away outfielder Dustin Fowler, right-hander James Kaprielian and shortstop Jorge Mateo.

Despite his loss, the Yankees supplemented him with James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and a bevy of relief pitchers to hold over the starting rotation. Gray’s health history is a major bonus for him, as the Yankees have struggled to remain positive in that category with our current starters. Unfortunately, pitching in the Bronx is not for everyone, and Sonny has undoubtedly turned his career around in Cincinnati.

“There’s no denying the fact that Sonny has stepped up,” Reds manager David Bell said, per “He’s a leader. He sets a great example. We couldn’t ask for a better option to set the tone for the season and for our rotation.”

New York Yankees Could Strike Deal To Send Sonny Gray To Brewers

The New York Yankees have been trying to unload starting pitch Sonny Gray since the end of the 2018 season, simply because he doesn’t seem to be a fit in New York.

Last season, Gray was dropped from the starting rotation – he was factored in as a relief option but struggled with his control and effectiveness on the mound. In 2018, Gray’s ERA was 3.71, which was 10th best in the American League. He also ranked 9th in WHIP.

Sonny Gray’s ‘home’ VS ‘away’ game with the New York Yankees:

Looking back, you can see that Sonny was much better during ‘away’ games than at home at Yankee Stadium. He had a 3.17 ERA, .226 BAA and 1.15 WHIP during ‘away’ games. The primary reason the Yanks are trying to unload him is because, well, he’s not a good ‘home’ pitcher.

Several teams have inquired about Gray, including Cincinnati, San Diego, Milwaukie, and Oakland.

Some positives that still remain for the pitcher – he’s still young at 29 years-old. He can still be efficient in a less pressurized environment, something that Yankee Stadium doesn’t offer. The Yankees recently traded for James Paxton and resigned J.A. Happ, which constitutes a full rotation.

Looking at Sonny Gray’s change in stats:

Finding a proper suitor for Gray will take some time, but I’m confident a deal will eventually reach the surface. There’s still plenty of value to be extracted from the former Athletic. His strikeout rate increased in the Bronx, despite his ERA being a full-run higher than it was in Oakland (4.51 with NY, 3.42 with the A’s).

The Yankees play in one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the AL, which doesn’t bode well for Gray who seems to have lost his touch with a short right-field fence. Moving to a different ball-park might be the change he needs to regain his old form.



New York Yankees Having Issue Unloading Substandard Relief Pitcher

The New York Yankees are in the process of bolstering their starting and relief pitching rotation, but one option is on the trade block due to a poor 2018 season.

Sonny Gray, a once highly coveted starting pitcher for the Oakland A’s, was brought over to the Yankees during the 2017 season, where he earned a 4-7 record. With a 3.72 ERA, Gray was though to be just having an off-year. This was not the case, as he followed up his lackluster 2017 campaign with arguably an even worse one in 2018.

How Sonny Gray performed for the Yankees last season:

Gray finished the season 11-9 with an ERA of 4.90. He was dropped from the starting pitching rotation and fell into a relief role, where he lost opportunities consistently due to bad performances.

In 2019, the right-handed pitcher will be in an arbitration year, which will allow the Yankees to slash his salary by a maximum of 20% of his total hit. He will earn an arbitration award of $9.1 million.

The Yankees are desperately trying to trade Sonny Gray:

The issues the Yankees are having with unloading Gray stem directly from their asking price. They have been pursuing high-end talent for the pitcher, who has a career record of 59-52.

The Yankees have traded for James Paxton and signed J.A. Happ to a two-year deal while trying to shop Gray. It doesn’t seem as if the team sees Sonny as a relief or rotational/reserve option, given his shopping.


New York Yankees: Sonny Gray Is On His Last Life – Can he Salvage It?

It kind of seemed of inevitable didn’t it? It was the announcement everyone expected, but no one wished for. A few days ago New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced Sonny Gray’s spot in the rotation would be replaced by newly-acquired Lance Lynn, one day after Gray didn’t get out of the 3rd inning and allowed seven-runs, before cracking a smile as he left the mound to a chorus of boos. It was ugly.

How much longer do the New York Yankees allow Sonny Gray to suffer?

Listen, I want him to succeed. Not just for the sake of the New York Yankees and their rotation stability. Not just for future meetings against the Red Sox and, quite frankly, every AL East opponent, where every loss feels like a shot through the heart. I want Sonny Gray to succeed for his own mental stability.

Constantly getting shelled, in the toughest sports city in the world, would be bad enough. Unfortunately, he also has the expectations of a trade to hold up, a trade that was highly touted as excellent around the league. So not only is it his reputation that is on the line, but Brian Cashman has to wear the ramifications of this trade as well.

I can sit here and write about how much talent Sonny Gray still has, and that is still true. Gray is highly effective when fully confident and clicking on all fronts. Right now, that isn’t happening, and the stats don’t lie. His last seven games see an ERA of 7.20, with 24 runs allowed in 30 innings. Not good.

Even worse is that most of his struggles come at home, which makes him an even bigger target of criticism. His home ERA is 7.71, compared to only 3.62 on the road, an incredible difference in performance.

The fact of the matter is, he is pitching for his job. He is eligible for arbitration in 2019, but the Yankees could simply decide to not offer him a contract, especially if Lance Lynn is effective in his opportunity.

Smiling walking off the mound, saying you pitched well in post-game interviews when you quite clearly didn’t, and shying away from criticism is not the way to get Yankee fans back on your side. Again, I hope his new role brings him success, and that he can have an impact with this club for a few more years. This is Sonny Gray’s last chance to prove his worth.

New York Yankees: Just How Good Has Sonny Gray Been?

As I write this, the New York Yankees are probably on a charter flight somewhere between Toronto and New York, basking in the glory of a 13-inning marathon victory. The road trip was an obvious success as they went 5-1, albeit against 3 teams who are all below .500 to varying degrees.

These games broke from the recent trend, where the pitching staff lives on the edge and limits damage while the offense bashes roughly 2 homeruns per game. This trip felt more like those games back in late April/early May when the staff was among the best in baseball, throwing up zeroes every inning while Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and company wore down opposing pitchers until they eventually caved.

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This was a welcome sight, given the news that LHP Jordan Montgomery will require Tommy John surgery, missing the rest of this season and most of next. Perhaps the most welcome sight of all was the pair of gems by Sonny Gray.

Watch Sonny and the defense go to work in Toronto:

It should be noted that his opponents in those two games, the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, feature the worst offenses by WAR in all of baseball. However, contrary to recent outcry, Gray has been good for a few weeks now.

Back in mid-April, despite Yankee manager Aaron Boone’s insistence that he not assign personal catchers, the Yankees began doing just that when backup catcher Austin Romine began showing up in the lineup card for Gray’s starts. During his last start with Gary Sanchez catching, an April 20th loss to Toronto at home, Sonny broke out his revised mechanics and approach. He was reaching back a little further, throwing more aggressively, taking less time between pitches, and attacking the zone rather than nibbling the corners and bouncing balls in the dirt.

It didn’t work out all that well that night, as he was gone by the end of the 4th, having already surrendered 5 runs, but it was the beginning of a positive arc. His next start, and the first with Romine catching, against Minnesota wasn’t a whole lot better. Usually lasting only 4.1 innings and allowing 3 runs wouldn’t be encouraging, but this was a transitional phase for Sonny. He was building something new. Lest we forget they also won that game.

Something clicked in Sonny’s next start though. His new, more aggressive approach seemed to finally be operational and the results were there. I use his 6 inning, 2 earned run performance in Houston on April 30th as a benchmark and doing that in Houston against that lineup is no small feat.

Here are Sonny’s overall numbers since April 30th:

7 starts (5 quality starts), a 3.38 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and 39 strikeouts in 42.2 IP, averaging 6 IP per start.

That’s not bad at all. Given that the version of Sonny Gray that should be expected to be present for the remainder of the season is the one that emerged in late April, I think reports of his early demise have been greatly exaggerated. Don’t you?

This shouldn’t be an indictment on Gary Sanchez as a catcher, by the way. He’s one of the best in the league. Sometimes a pitcher just pitches better to a certain catcher, for whatever reason. It also shouldn’t go without saying that Gray still has pitched much better on the road than at home, but we’re talking about only 3 home games in that stretch.

I’m willing to forgive him for maybe not having his best stuff and paying for it against Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons, and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels in his most recent clunker. I’ll also throw him a mulligan for coughing up 5 runs in 5 innings when he faced his former team, the Oakland Athletics, for the first time since being traded last year. For all nay-sayers who pinpoint those two games, I will remind you that his 6 inning, 2 earned run performance against Cleveland was also in Yankee Stadium.

During his time in New York, Sonny Gray has certainly had his ups and downs. So far though, and especially in the last 6 weeks, the ups should out-weigh the downs. He shut down the Astros’ hitters last year in the ALCS in New York, and he did it again this year in Houston. He shut down Cleveland’s hitters this year in New York after struggling against them last year in Cleveland. The Yankees’ former Nemesis, David Ortiz, listed Gray among the five toughest pitchers he had ever faced – the other four included Mariano Rivera and Pedro Martinez. Let that sink in. Take all the time you need.

Sonny Gray is probably going to be fine. The more starts he gets under his belt with his revised approach, the more comfortable he will become.

One would assume, given each team’s rotation and schedule, that his next start will be against Stephen Strasburg and the NL East leading Washington Nationals this coming Wednesday in New York. The two ugly narratives, that he can’t pitch in Yankee Stadium or against better lineups (neither are true) will hopefully be put to bed in one game. Make it happen Sonny!



New York Yankees: Sonny Gray has success despite loss to Astros

Sonny Gray had two options against the Houston Astros on Monday night—self-correct from earlier performances and prove he was worth the three top prospects he was traded for last season or self-destruct in Minute Maid Park at the hands of the world champions and watch his ERA inflate to epic proportions.

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Fortunately for Yankee fans, Gray chose the former and engaged the Astros Charlie Morton in a pitching duel. Gray’s six innings with four hits, two runs, three walks, and four strikeouts was certainly his best performance of the season and was enough to nearly keep pace with Morton’s outstanding performance going 7.2 innings with two hits, one run, two walks and ten strikeouts.

Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley noted that Gray was “aggressive and his command improved, allowing him to keep the Yankees in the game all night.”

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Austin Romine was behind the plate, a move the nuances of which no Yankee fan would have missed. Yankee Manager Aaron Boone has said that he would not have personal catchers for his pitchers; however, when asked after Monday’s game by Coley Harvey of ESPN if Romine would catch Gray’s next start, Harvey reports:

“Yankees manager Aaron Boone said following Gray’s strong six-inning, two-run, four-hit outing Monday that the right-hander likely would get another game with help from Austin Romine, the backup catcher who has caught his past two starts.”

Boone went on to say he hoped the move would help Gray get to the point where it won’t matter who catches him.

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Gray, however, spoke after the game to’s Randy Miller, and said of his relationship with Romine:

“He just adapts to the game,” Gray said of Romine. “It flows and there’s great communication. Between innings, there’s constant communication, which for me is extremely beneficial with everything I try to do with the baseball.”

As a Yankee fan, I want Gray to be successful. If that means he has a personal catcher, so be it. It may be one of those decisions Boone backs away quietly from, especially if tonight’s stellar performance by Gray and Romine was any indication.

New York Yankees: Sonny Gray “Circle the wagons!”

Sonny Gray seemed no closer to figuring out how to regain his All-Star form on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. After announcing this week that he was tweaking his mechanics, his performance against the Blue Jays was underwhelming, and worse, led to an ugly Yankee loss.

First of all, these are the not Blue Jays who were projected by some to finish third in the AL East. This Blue Jay team is outperforming projections to sit in the number two spot behind the first place Boston Red Sox. Gregor Chisholm of writes:

“The Blue Jays are scoring more runs per game (6.0) than any team in the American League except for the Red Sox (6.4 entering play Friday night). That has been good enough for a second-place spot in the AL East and early possession of an AL Wild Card spot. On the road, Toronto is 6-3 to start the year and has been outscoring its opponents 47-34.”

Gray had a formidable task ahead of him when he took the mound Friday night—bounce back against one of the hottest offensive teams in the league.

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According to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News, Aaron Boone discussed Gray’s performance after the game and said:

“The fastball velocity was down, even from last time where he struggled in Boston… And it turns into a tough night for him,” Aaron Boone said of Gray. “We’ve got to kind of circle the wagons with him and continue to work through it, because he’s really important to us. We’ve got to bea [sic] part of getting him right and back on track, but this was tough tonight.”

The Yankee offense was off to a good start with a pair of two run home runs, one by Tyler Austin in the second inning and one by Giancarlo Stanton in the third inning; however, Gray could not hold the lead in either inning and gave up five runs over 3.1 innings. Despite another Yankee home run by Miguel Andujar, the Yankees eventually lost the game 8-5.

Boone acknowledges that Gray has lost his form and with it his effectiveness and Botte points out:

“Gray finished the game generating only one swing and miss among his 73 pitches. His walk rate of 6.0 per nine innings is nearly double the career-high of 3.2 he posted last season.”

Gray had seemingly lost command of the strike zone and on those occasions when he found it, he did not fool Blue Jays hitters with his stuff.

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When asked after the game what had happened in the four hit three run fourth inning, Gray told Botte that the inning “just kind of got away from me,” as if it were a helium balloon he just happened to let go of and not the pounding that it actually was.

Yes, Boone, circle the wagons, and, perhaps, bring the reinforcements, fans agree that Sonny Gray is a problem the Yankees need to solve and quickly.

New York Yankees Player Preview: Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray was a player that whenever his name was brought up as a possible trade target, the New York Yankees were at the forefront of the discussions. The Yankees finally pulled the trigger to acquire Gray last season from the Athletics. Gray had a rough first season in pinstripes, but is a prime candidate for bounce back player of the year.

Gray’s numbers with the Yankees last season:

3.72 ERA, 4 W, 7 L, 59 K, 27 BB


Gray was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He attended Smyrna High School and was a fantastic baseball player. Gray was also a quarterback for the Smyrna football team. After High School he went on to play at Vanderbilt. Gray played three years for Vanderbilt and had his best season in his junior year.

In his final season he led Vanderbilt to the school’s first ever college world series berth and made it to the semifinals. Gray was selected by the Athletics 18th overall in the 2011 draft.

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Becoming a Yankee:

Gray made his debut in 2013 for the Athletics. In that season the Athletics made the playoffs and Gray pitched in two games for them. He made the A’s roster out of spring training in 2014 and made his first career opening day start. He helped the A’s make the playoffs again.

Gray started the wild card game for the A’s, which they eventual loss. His best professional season was in 2015. He pitched in his first All Star Game and was third in CY Young voting. 2016 was a disappointment for Gray as he landed on the DL twice and finished the season with a 5.69 ERA.

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At the trade deadline last year the Yankees needed to add a starting pitcher as they were in the hunt for a playoff spot, and had lost Michael Pineda to Tommy John surgery. The Yankees made a deadline deal on July 31 to acquire Gray giving up top prospects Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, and Dustin Fowler.

Gray did not have a tremendous amount of success in his time with the Yankees last season. A majority of it was not his fault as the Yankees did not provide Gray with a lot of run support in his starts.

Gray did help the Yankees make it back to the playoffs and pitched decently. In his first start, Gray was terrible as he walked three, gave up 1 HR, and allowed 3 ER in 3.2 Innings pitched. The Yankees pitcher rebounded in his second and final start of the playoffs against the Astros in game four of the ALCS. In five innings Gray only allowed 1 ER, 1 H and had 4 k.

Bounce Back Player:

Gray is destined for a bounce back year. Coming to New York can be challenging for players especially in the midst of a playoff race. Gray has the the benefit of having a full spring training with the bombers. This will play well to him and can benefit him in the long run.

Gray is a pitcher who likes to get batters to chase pitches out of the zone which explains his high walk rate. If he can go back to his 2015 self, someone who attacked batters and did not mess around, he will be a strong number three option for Aaron Boone and the Yankees.

Yankee fans should not give up on Gray as he is a pitcher who can be an ace or a  great number two. He is a former All-Star and has all the tools to be a CY Young pitcher. I expect big things from Gray in his first full season in pinstripes.

New York Yankees: The Ellsbury Effect

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

With the start of the Major League regular season a week away, the New York Yankees have a decision that needs to be made:

Who is making the roster to replace the oft injured Jacoby Ellsbury? Jacoby was at one time and six hours North of the Bronx a very productive Major League ballplayer. However, throughout his time in the pinstripes, Ellsbury has been less than a shell of his former self.

Ellsbury has played for the Yankees across four seasons, in that time he has only managed to have one season above “replacement level” production (2014), according to Baseball Reference’s OPS+. 2014 was Jacoby’s first season in the Bronx and his last truly productive season.

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Now, with Ellsbury set to begin the season on the shelf, this opens up a spot on the 25-man roster to “Break Camp” with the team heading North. Manager Aaron Boone told members of the media that Tyler Wade has made the ball club. Many believe that he will be the starting second baseman on Opening Day in Toronto on March 29th.

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The Yankees current roster consists of:

Catchers: Gary Sanchez & Austin Romine
First Baseman: Greg Bird
Second Basemen: Tyler Wade & Neil Walker
Third Baseman: Brandon Drury
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius & Ronald Torreyes
Left Fielder: Brett Gardner
Center Fielder: Aaron Hicks
Right Fielders: Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton
Starting Pitcher: Luis Severino, Mashiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray & Jordan Montgomery
Relief Pitchers: David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Adam Warren & Chasen Shreve
Closer: Aroldis Chapman

Who Gets A Shot ?

That gives you 24 out of 25 players to start out the 2018 season for the New York Yankees. The injury to Ellsbury leaves an opening. Some who have thought that it could have been someone like Tyler Austin who was having a tremendous Spring, but he was reassigned back to Minor League camp on March 21st before the Yankees game against the Orioles. This however does leave the opening for the starter in the same game…. Luis Cessa.

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Cessa has been up and down for the Yankees since his acquisition by the Yankees in December of 2015. Cessa has pitched 106 innings for the Yankees to the tune of a 4.49 era. Luis will have an opportunity to show what he has earlier in the season as the Yankees will have five straight games to open up the start of the regular season.

The injury to Ellsbury could have been the golden ticket to the Bronx for a premium talent like Clint Frazier, however, they both went down at similar times and have stayed out recovering. Clint won’t be getting that opportunity.

This season will be a defining point for Clint Frazier, as with the number of outfielders already on the Major League roster and an impending free agent who hasn’t been shy about stating his fandom for the Pinstripes looming. Frazier once healed up from his concussion must set the world by storm, if he has any hopes of staying in Pinstripes.

Lasting Impression:

Jacoby, much like Clint Frazier, has seen the writing on the wall. And while his contract is rather cumbersome, it’s not impossible to think GM Brian Cashman can sell his talents to another team and move his monetary obligations elsewhere.

Ellsbury’s injury will be a foreshadowing of the potential future the Yankees will have. If the first few weeks of the season pass and Ellsbury has not returned vying that 25th spot on the roster, he may be replaced by a rising prospect.

Jacoby Ellsbury will have a major effect on the Yankees success this season; when healthy he could be a productive fourth outfielder, if unhealthy his spot will provide the launching pad for the top prospects in the top sixth farm system in all of baseball.

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