The New York Yankees sit at 28-12, the best record in baseball. They lead the league in runs scored with 231. They are third in doubles with 83. They sit second in home runs with 57. They lead the league in Runs Batted In with 223. They lead the league in walks with 179. They lead the league in On-Base Percentage at .339, and are third in slugging at .444. That gives them a league leading .783 OPS.
The Yankees also sport four players with double digit home runs: Aaron Judge with 11, while Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton with 10 each. No other team sports more than two such players.
And this team is still far from full strength. Starting first baseman Greg Bird is still working his way back from injury. Top flight bullpen arms Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren are still on the shelf. Didi Gregorius has gone cold, 0-28, and Aaron Judge is the only man above .300 in the lineup. Far from its maximum potential. So this team has plenty of improvement to look to in house.
But that’s not enough. The Yankees still need to look beyond their own clubhouse to fully insure they can handle the best October can throw at them; another starting pitcher.
Luis Severino has been a true ace, building on his third place Cy Young finish last season, with a 2.14 ERA, six wins, and 70 strikeouts in nine games. Masahiro Tanaka has been siginificantly better in his last few starts. C.C. Sabathia’s career renaissance appears to be continuing, with a sterling 2.23 ERA. However, that appears to be the extent of the starting rotation. Jordan Montgomery pitched well in his six starts, but he has since found his way to the Disabled List.
Then there is Sonny Gray. The prized trade acquisition from last season has looked like one the worst starting pitchers in Major League Baseball this season. A 2-3 record. A 6.39 ERA. Giving up five home runs, 24 walks, against a measly 32 strikeouts.
The Yankees need another reliable starting pitcher in order to truly contend with the deep rotations of Houston, Boston and Cleveland. There should be plenty of available arms at the trade deadline. Michael Fulmer is the first name that jumps off the page. Before the Gray trade, Brian Cashman inquired about Fullmer last season. He isn’t off to the greatest start, but he, like Tanaka, has been better in recent starts, and also been a victim of the Tigers’ anemic offense. With Detroit far from contending, he’ll likely be available.
Other names the Yanks can look at? Chris Archer comes to mind. The Rays may not be likely to give their ace to a division rival. But Archer’s early season struggles also make it seem possible that the Rays would be unwilling to hang on much longer, lest he lose value. New York can also look to the West for assistance. Cole Hamels will never be the pitcher he was in Philadelphia, but he is off to a decent start this year in Texas. With the Rangers in the AL West basement, watching Houston and Los Angeles run away from them, they might be willing to send the veteran to the Bronx.