A lot of people picked the Yankees to win the pennant this year. Personally I thought they were getting a bit ahead of themselves, but I of course wasn’t going to be surprised if the Bronx Bombers played well. Now, just four weeks into the season they appear to be heating up. Last night they won their fourth in a row. Aaron Judge homered. Did “top 5 SS in baseball” Gregorius homered. Gary Sanchez homered twice. Giancarlo Stanton went 4-for-4 the other night. So did Miguel Andujar. Gleyber Torres is up now. Good lord that’s a lot of potential offense.
However, the one move we all know the Yankees have up their sleeves this year is the ability to trade for starting pitching come July. They just have soooo many prospects. Clint Frazier isn’t even on the big league roster right now! And while the bullpen has been shaky it’s still the rotation where the biggest upgrade is needed. For a while it’s been unclear as to who the starter New York will trade for will be, but that isn’t a huge concern. This time last season we had no idea Justin Verlander would be available.
Yesterday Buster Olney wrote about who that starter might be (Red Sox fans brace yourselves). Madison Bumgarner....one of the three most clutch playoff performers of my lifetime (Tom Brady, David Ortiz). As much as I hate to admit it the logic makes sense. The Yankees need an impact starter. Bumgarner is just that. In 17 starts last year he posted a 3.32 ERA. Before that his ERA hadn't been above 3 since 2012, while making over 30 starts each year.
But the Yankees aren’t acquiring him as much for the regular season as they are the post-season. That’s where MadBum shines. Come October Bum has a career 2.11 ERA. The Giants are 13-3 in the playoffs when he pitches. In 2014 he had an all time playoff run, throwing a ridiculous 52 2/3 innings to go along with 45 strikeouts and a 1.03 ERA. He threw two complete game shutout and pitched five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 on the road. He was on just two days rest.
It needs to be noted that Bumgarner is, for the second straight year, currently hurt. I was optimistic about a big season for him in 2018. Then he got drilled by a comebacker in his final spring training start. It’s not ideal, but by the time New York would hypothetically trade for him he will have had time to show he’s fully recovered. Plus getting hit by a comebacker is as fluky as it gets. This isn’t a chronic shoulder or elbow injury we’re talking about.
The loss of Bumgarner has basically torpedoed San Francisco’s season. It was going to be a struggle even with him to claw their way into a wild car spot, but without Bum they’ve begun the year just 11-12. I guess they don’t HAVE TO trade him this year, considering hen't a free agent until after 2019. But as Olney notes in his column the Giants are approaching a fate similar to what happened to the Phillies years ago with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and co. Nobody is going to want Andrew McCutchen or Evan Longoria. At least they won't give up much for them. San Fran doesn't have a great farm system. Bumgarner is their one trade chip who could accelerate the rebuilding process. The Yankees have tons of prospects and need a starter. I'm gonna throw up.