The New York Yankees are close. The team who started off the season on a tear has slowed down as of late. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make up ground and make it to the playoffs. However, there are a few obstacles they must clear first in order to do so.
The first one is catching the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. It’s one thing to sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card, but it’s another to win the AL East and upstage the Sox. This is what Yankees baseball are all about. Winning and beating Boston. But for the Yanks to do so, they must improve their pitching before the MLB Trade Deadline. Not just for the stretch run either. They must find a future ace or No. 2 starter for the next 10 years. Aaron Nola is that guy.
For those smirking and thinking the Philadelphia Phillies will never let go of Nola– think again. Obviously, you haven’t been paying attention to the Phillies over the last few years.
While the team is in complete rebuild mode, they must continue to look towards the future and get what they can for whoever they can. And that includes Aaron Nola. When the season started, the Phils had Nola listed as their fifth starter. No respect. Mind you, he was coming off an injury but the Phillies figured they would ride the arms of Clay Buchholz, Jeremy Hellickson, and Vince Velasquez instead. Needless to say, that hasn’t worked out too well for them.
The Yankees, on the other hand, had their rotation set and knew who their top pitchers were. Each pitcher began the season on fire, especially Michael Pineda.
But here is the thing about baseball– one minute you’re riding high and the next– you’re being humbled. The Yankees are now experiencing a little hardship and must do what they have to to do to survive. With Pineda gone for the year, the Yanks need an arm to replace his production. Now is not the time to call up a younger player or give a 20 inning pitched pitcher a shot. They need a player that’s reliable, clutch and an inning eater. Nola.
Nola may have started the season in the back of the class but since his return from the DL, he has shown why he should have been the ace of the Phillies from the beginning. Over his last five starts, he has gone under seven innings just once while pitching 35.1 innings, giving up 10 earned runs and striking out 40 batters. Yes, this is the production the Yankees are missing. To makes things better is Nola’s contract. He’s set to be paid only $544k this season with the Phillies holding control for 2018. What this does is give the Yankees some leverage.
Brian Cashman can offer the Phillies prospects as they appear to be a few years from making any real moves towards the top of the NL East and will not be in the market to take any big contracts on. This is what Cashman is good at.
The Yankees can look to finish out the season with a rotation that features Luis Severino, C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, and Nola. The Yanks have one of the most powerful offenses in MLB but if their pitching can’t regroup then their hot start to the season will be for nothing.
While many will hope for the services of Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander or another hot name, Nola is the one that will actually be meaningful as both Verlander and Gray have struggled and have more mileage on them. Gone are the days of quick fixes for the Yanks. It’s time to think short-term but with long-term possibilities.
The Yanks are still in great position but they cannot afford to take any chances here. Nola is their man for the stretch run and foreseeable future.