Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Yanks Struggling, Cole’s Streak Ends


Yanks Struggling, Cole’s Streak Ends



Bombers Reeling

The Yankees had just gotten beat up in a three-game sweep by their divisional rivals from Tampa Bay when they turned their lonely eyes to their $324 million ace, Gerrit Cole, to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, their prized free-agent acquisition was not up to the task and had an uncharacteristically poor outing. When the dust settled, Cole had worked five full innings and surrendered five earned runs on five hits, three of which were home run shots, and the Yankees dropped a 5-1 decision to the Braves, their   fourth consecutive loss.

“I just sort of liked to have pitched better,” said Cole, whose 20-game winning streak, dating to last May, came to a close. “It seemed to be a little bit feast-or-famine in terms of good command for a period of time and some bad command in some bad spots.”

“Times when I thought that they were going to be aggressive, they were patient. And times when I thought maybe I could grab some more of the zone in some situations, I made a poor pitch and they were being aggressive. It just didn't match up and they stayed about one step ahead of me too many times.”

New York is now 1 ½ games behind the Rays in the AL East standings and is a sub .500 road team as of this writing. While their performances at Yankee Stadium have reaped stellar results, they are not a serious championship contender unless they can win on the highway. Despite a somewhat disappointing first half to this truncated season,   they are certainly not considered MLB underdogs by any stretch of the imagination as their roster is loaded with talent and many believe it’s only a matter of time before this 2020 Yankees edition puts it all together. 

Happ Not Happy

J.A. Happ has 17 million reasons to be unhappy about the way he has been used by manager Aaron Boone this season. You see, the 37-year-old hurler has a $17 million vesting option for next season if he makes either 27 starts or pitches 165 innings, which is prorated to 10 starts or 61 ¹/₃ innings in this abbreviated season. MLB rules prohibit purposefully manipulating a player’s usage to keep said player from his vesting option.

Happ is coming off of his best outing of the season when he held the Red Sox to one run over five-plus innings in a   4-2 Yankees victory on August 16th. But he has yet to get a start over the last 10 days and believes there might be a conspiracy afloat.

“I know I’m healthy and have been healthy and ready to pitch since what would have been [the beginning of] the regular season and since summer camp and the start of the abbreviated season,’’ Happ said. “I’ve been ready to go in all those cases with no issues.”

While ace Gerrit Cole, leads the team in starts with seven on the young season, Happ has only three starts on his 2020 resume and he’s not shy about showing his dismay. When asked about the brewing controversy, Happ stated, “You guys [in the media] are pretty smart. It doesn’t take too much to figure out, sort of, what could be going on.”


But Boone rebutted that contention when he explained, “After a four-day break, we reshuffled to prioritize getting Gerrit going and [Tanaka] after him, then the off day and then [Montgomery] and J.A. There’s a chance we even pitch Gerrit and [Tanaka] on the sixth day out of this. … With only four starters right now, you’re gonna need to make up those slots.”

In fairness to Boone, Happ has not been setting the world on fire and could be pitching himself right out of the rotation. After three starts he has logged only 12.2 innings of work and has 10 walks to six strikeouts with a bloated 6.39 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. Probably not the best time to start complaining as a member of a championship-caliber team. 

Happ was posed with the question about the situation becoming a distraction for him on and off the field, “It’s hard to quantify an answer for that. It weighs on me to some extent, but when I come in here, I try to continue to be a good teammate and prepare to be ready and be professional and that stuff. But when I’m away [from the park], it certainly can creep in and has taken a lot of thought. … At this point, I need to leave that on the back burner and let that play out how it might.”