If there was one takeaway from the Yankees’ 6-3 loss to their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets, it was the growing urgency for pitching help in the Bronx.
Jordan Montgomery went 2.1 innings on Tuesday night and allowed four runs on five hits, and gave up a pair of home runs before the first inning had come to a close. Yankees pitching, which had been dominant for the better part of the first half of the season has started to come back to earth with the Bombers now heading into the playoff push.
While Gerrit Cole has provided the necessary juice on the mound and Nestor Cortes has continued to be a surprise ace for the staff, Jameson Taillon has struggled this season despite a 10-2 record on the mound and Montgomery is 0-2 in his last seven starts with a 4.97 ERA in that span.
Add to the list the injuries that occurred to starter Luis Severino and reliever Michael King and Brian Cashman’s focus headed into next Tuesday’s trade deadline should be pretty clear. The priority should be getting some weapons for the pitching staff as the Yankees make their push for the franchise’s first World Series title in 13 years.
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As it stands, Yankees starters are sixth in MLB with a 3.31 ERA and a 3.68 FIP, according to FanGraphs WAR. The team ERA is third best in the majors at 3.17 this season, but over the past 30 days New York’s team ERA has been 3.80.
And the last five days have painted a clear picture of how crucial having the right personnel will be in the playoffs this October.
The Yankees have been linked to Cincinnati Reds’ starter Luis Castillo and the righty is the best starter on the market. Juan Soto may be the flashy trade to make, if the Washington Nationals trade him at all this year, but for the Bombers Castillo would fit a glaring need to shore up their pitching staff.
Cashman and company got a front-row view of just how potent Castillo can be a few weeks back when he started against the Bombers. Castillo threw 7.0 innings and allowed just one run as he kept the Yankees hitless for the first five innings of the game.
In 78 innings pitched this season, Castillo has a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while striking out 82 batters. His success on the mound would come in quite handy for the postseason and as the regular season carries.
Castillo would also be under team control through 2023 and have another season of arbitration eligibility.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said about Castillo back on July 14. “He was working both edges, the four-seamer and sinker. He’s got one of the best changeups in the game too, but he just didn’t leave too many mistakes for us to hit. When you have a 100 and you’re painting the corners, that’s in for a tough day.”
Castillo isn’t the only pitching option for the Yankees either, with Jeff Passan of ESPN reporting that New York is also pursuing Oakland Athletic’s pitcher Frankie Montas. Like Castillo, Montas is 29, under team control for another season and having a strong season.
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In 19 starts this year Montas has a 3.18 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with 109 strikeouts.
No one is anticipating the Yankees getting knocked out of the top spot in the AL East, but the playoffs will be an entirely different beast than the regular season and shoring up their pitching staff will go a long way.