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Yankees Perspectives – August 15, 2020

Thus far, the 2020 Yankees have been fun to watch. They are 13-6. That is amazing. It’s so much fun to watch a great baseball team play great. Winning is fun!

As we look at the Yankees right now, I have the following perspectives:

Gerrit Cole – My goodness, he is everything the Yankees needed, wanted, and more. The Yankees are 5-0 in his starts. His record is 4-0. Last night he threw seven innings which got the Yankees (of course) to the eighth inning without having to use their bullpen. That is HUGE. An ace needs to win consistently and also pitch deep into games. Gerrit Cole is doing both of those things.

Catfish Hunter – This deserves a deeper dive, but Gerrit Cole might be the best Free Agent starting pitcher the Yankees have ever signed, or at least the best one since Catfish Hunter. Because of the truncated “irregular” season, statistics won’t be a great indicator of Cole’s success at the end of the year, but he seems to be doing what no other Yankees free agent pitcher has been able to do – probably since Catfish Hunter came to the Yankees for the 1975 season…and that is be the true ace of the staff. Cole has been able to be the immediate ace. There is no question who the best starting pitcher on the Yankees is. It is Gerrit Cole. Period.

When Catfish came to the Yankees in 1975, he immediately became the ace. Hunter went 23-14, 2.58 that year pitching 328 innings.

I can’t think of another free agent starter who the Yankees signed who immediately was regarded as the best starter, no questions asked, and The Guy to lead the staff (and the team) to the post season.

When Mike Mussina came, the Yankees already had Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

When Tommy John was signed, the Yankees had Ron Guidry as the ace.

Jimmy Key? When he came, he was seen as a super important piece to help a struggling team trying to get back to success. He wasn’t thrust into the role as the ace on a team that was supposed to win. That was even true, in a way, for Catfish Hunter. In 1975, most people didn’t expect Hunter to pitch the Yankees to a pennant immediately…

What Cole is doing, coming in as the ace, and pitching like an ace, is historic.

But, Even Catfish Got Off Slowly – It seems that most free agents come to the Yankees, they struggle initially. (This is also true of pitchers the Yankees acquire in trades, most often they struggle when they first come to New York.)

After Catfish Hunter’s first four starts as a Yankee, his record stood at 0-3. He had a 7.36 ERA. It took a little while for Catfish to acclimate to New York and find success…

After Mike Mussina’s first four games as a Yankee, he was 1-3, 4.78.

Roger Clemens came in a trade, and he did start out 5-0, but it took him eight starts to win five games, and he didn’t look great in doing it. After his first five games, Clemens’ record was just 2-0 and he had a 5.47 ERA.

Jimmy Key pitched great for the Yankees in 1993, going 3-0 over his first seven games, with a 1.34 ERA. He would have won more, but the Yankees didn’t score often for him. Still, again, though, no one expected the 1993 Yankees to be very good. He didn’t have to come in a pitch the Yankees to a pennant.

Tommy John did arrive and immediately pitch extremely well. After his first five starts, he was 4-0, 1.13. He went on to win 21 games that year (1979). He, though, didn’t have to be the #1 starter. Ron Guidry was there for that.

The only pitcher I can think of who had to come to New York and be the ace and be great immediately (and was) was David Cone who arrived (via trade) as a savior and was immediately that in 1995. He won his first four starts (with a 2.25 ERA), in a pennant race, and went 9-2 overall in his first season as a Yankee.

All this to say that what Gerrit Cole is doing is extremely impressive. He stepped in to be the ace and he’s been the ace. That’s not easy to do.

But he ‘s doing it.

Aaron Judge – Hurt again. Ugggg. The moment I heard he was taken out of the game the other night, “for precautions”, I thought, “Here we go again.” Let’s not forget that if the season started on time, Judge would have missed the first few months of the season. He just cannot seem to stay healthy.

Aaron Judge is great. I love him. He is so fun to watch. He is the Yankees’ Superstar.

But he’s often hurt, and this doesn’t seem to change.

A superstar only helps the team when he is in the lineup.

Raise your hand if you think Judge comes back after ten games on the IL. I don’t. These things seem to become the same old song and dance, “He’s close, nope, not quite, he’s getting there” as each week passes.

Can anyone be confident that he won’t get hurt again once he does come back? This has been the pattern for Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for years. It’s so frustrating because this could be such a magical time for them.

More Aaron Judge – Back in March, we asked our writers about Aaron Judge’s future. We asked, “How many homers will he end up with?” At 4:00 pm today, we will do a flashback to that post.

Right now Aaron Judge has 119 career home runs. I have to wonder if he’ll even get to 200.

I hate saying that. It kills me to say it.

I hope Aaron Judge gets healthy and stays healthy. I hope he has a long career. I hope he hits a thousand homers…

It just doesn’t seem likely.

Giancarlo Stanton – See above for Judge.

One day we will look back on these years, at the talent of Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, at their tremendous strength and skills and ability, and wonder what might have been.

There was the possibility that these two greats could have had multiple years where they combined for over 100 home runs in a season. It would have been amazing to see.

It would have been great.

In the three seasons they have been Yankees, they have totaled a combined 107 homers. The hope was they’d be doing that each season year-after-year-after-year.

At this point, it would be nice to see them in the same line-up for just one full season together.

Clint Frazier – His time is now. I think this is Clint Frazier’s last best chance to break into the Yankees’ lineup for good. I hope he steps up.

Gary Sanchez – That homer he hit last night is why the team sticks with him. Wow! Amazing. If he could just stay within himself and perform to his talent level, it would be amazing. When Gary Sanchez hits, boy does he hit!

Imagine if Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez all were healthy and playing at their highest levels, all together, at the same time, for a whole season.

DJ – I am not the first to say this, but I hope he hits .400 this year. That would be awesome!

Let’s Go Yankees!

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