Three moves to improve the Yankees
The New York Yankees have won 12 of their past 17 games, propelling them into third in the AL East, seven games behind first-place Tampa Bay.
To catch the Rays, New York must improve in key areas. Here are three needed steps.
1. Fix the starting rotation
The Yankees have a 3.76 ERA, tied for the sixth best in baseball. That strong ERA is due to the bullpen, not the starters.
Three Yankee starters have made nine or more starts. Gerrit Cole leads those pitchers in ERA (2.53), followed by Domingo German (3.75), Nestor Cortes Jr. (5.30), Jhony Brito (5.58) and Clarke Schmidt (5.58).
Cortes Jr. is the most concerning of the bunch. The 2022 All-Star has a splendid 2.03 ERA in innings one through four this season but a dreadful 14.68 ERA in innings five through seven. The Yankees need starters such as Cortes Jr. to give them innings to preserve the bullpen.
Luis Severino just returned from the injured list, but the timetable remains uncertain for fellow Yankee starter Carlos Rodon, according to ESPN.
The Yankees lack internal options, so they must go outside the team for help. German Marquez of the Rockies and Lucas Giolito of the White Sox are among the logical trade targets.
2. Jettison Josh Donaldson
The Yankees cut bait with Aaron Hicks last weekend and they should do the same with Donaldson.
In 2022, he posted a rough .228/.308/.374 slash line with just 15 home runs. The veteran was also fined and suspended in May 2022 after he made insensitive comments to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
Donaldson posted a horrid .125/.176/.313 across 16 at bats this season before being placed on the injured list with a strained hamstring.
The Yankees have been red-hot without the veteran. DJ LeMahieu has settled in as starting third baseman, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and rookie Oswald Pereza both have the ability to play third base.
There is no reason to bring a struggling veteran back into fold.
3. Stop using Clay Holmes as closer
Holmes, who has a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings, is five for seven in save opportunites, but a deeper dive into the numbers raises alarms. At Yankee Stadium this season, Holmes has 6.30 ERA and has given up 17 hits in just 10 innings.
The veteran reliever is walking 3.72 batters per nine innings, and hitters have a .385 batting average against Holmes when they put the ball in play.
Six Yankees relievers have a better ERA this season, including Michael King and Wandy Peralta.
The Yankees must stick with a closer-by-commitee approach. Holmes became a star in New York as a setup man, and that’s a role he must resume.