The New York Yankees seemingly checked off a large task off their to-do list last week when they acquired left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ to help bolster an inconsistent starting rotation. However, they may not be done yet with the Major League Baseball's Jul. 31 trade deadline looming.
There is still cause for concern in the Bronx when it comes to starting pitching even with Happ coming in as an All-Star rental. The 35-year-old will be making his Yankees debut on Sunday after going 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA with a Toronto Blue Jays team that is well out of postseason contention.
He was expected to slot into the middle of the rotation behind staff ace Luis Severino to help keep things afloat amongst the inconsistent Masahiro Tanaka and the struggling Sonny Gray.
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The problem is that even Severino has been a liability lately, which couldn't be coming at a worse time considering the Boston Red Sox are on the cusp of running away with the American League East crown. In his last four starts dating back to Jul. 7, the 24-year-old has gone 1-2 with an 8.84 ERA while allowing seven home runs.
In the first 18 starts of the 2018 season, Severino gave up just six home runs while going 13-2 with a 1.98 ERA, posing a real challenge to Red Sox star Chris Sale's status as AL Cy Young favorite.
But with uncertainty now at the top of the rotation and the offense receiving a blow with the loss of Aaron Judge for three weeks due to a wrist injury, the Yankees continue to look for starting pitching help on the market.
Who is out there for the Yankees?
Per the New York Daily News' Kristie Ackert, Yankees scouts are still keeping an eye on starting pitching around the league even after nabbing Happ. Ackert noted that Zack Wheeler of the New York Mets and Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays are two targets.
The oft-injured Wheeler finally looks to be putting things together at age 28. After Tommy John surgery sidelined him for two years, the right-hander looked as though he'd never live up to expectations set when the Mets acquired him from the San Francisco Giants in the Carlos Beltran deal.
After going 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in his first year back in 2017, Wheeler began this year going 2-5 with a 4.98 ERA. But the pitching-intensive coaching staff of manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland looks to be turning things around for him.
In his last five starts, Wheeler is 2-0 with a 3.03 ERA, which has built his trade value immensely as teams around the league continue to look for starting pitching help. Along with the Yankees, the Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners are among interested parties.
In Tampa, Archer continues to be a popular trade chip despite a drop in his production over the past three years. Once the undisputed ace of the Rays pitching staff, Archer has gone 22-36 with a 4.10 ERA. In the meantime, the currently-injured 25-year-old Blake Snell has developed into the class of the Rays rotation.
Considering that he's applying his trade in the American League, a 4.10 ERA isn't necessarily bad from ARcher. But the Yankees and other interested parties are likely wary of the Rays' asking price for the right-hander.