September 21, 2019

Money and Modern Strategy: How the Depleted Yankees Kept Winning

Money and Modern Strategy: How the Depleted Yankees Kept Winning

The Yankees have been led by a stable pitching staff despite being without a four-time All-Star (reliever Dellin Betances) and the ace of their starting rotation (Luis Severino). Entering Friday, the Yankees had a 3.74 E.R.A., seventh in baseball, thanks in part to German — a pitcher who was once viewed as a potential reliever and arrived in New York as a small part of a 2014 trade that included Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones.

German’s command has improved through working with the Yankees’ pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, and he now leads baseball with eight wins and paces the team’s rotation with a 2.50 E.R.A.

German has mitigated the loss of Severino, who may not return from the strain of his right latissimuss dorsi until this summer. The Yankees’ deep pockets have also helped ease the absence of Betances, who recently began throwing as he recovers from right shoulder inflammation.

Taking the modern baseball strategy of building around a bullpen to heart, the Yankees spent $86 million on the star closer Aroldis Chapman in 2017. This winter, they lavished $66 million on the standout relief pitchers Adam Ottavino and Britton. Better health from Tommy Kahnle and improved pitching from Luis Cessa, both of whom spent a lot of last season in the minor leagues, softened some of the blow of Chad Green’s struggles.

“We recognize that we’re fortunate in the market we exist in and with the ownership that runs this operation,” Cashman said. “They’re fully committed and financially able to do more than most, if not all. At the same time, our operations, we’re culturally wired to respect everybody else in the game. We are in a constant battle to determine what they are doing better than we are.”

He added later, “It’s the never-ending battle for higher ground.”

As Britton noted, old-fashioned scouting and advanced analytics have allowed teams to better spot potential contributors hidden on other minor or major league squads.

“The Yankees are picking up on guys that teams maybe don’t have the resources to go that deep and run the analytics on, and snatch some guys from other teams that are good players,” Britton said. “It wasn’t just that we turned them into some great players. They were good players that were given an opportunity.”

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