The New York Yankees might very well call up Gleyber Torres before the month is out, but he does not help the club’s biggest flaw at the moment: starting pitching.
After Wednesday of this week, the Yankees, should they feel the desire to do so, can call up top prospect Gleyber Torres and have the 21-year-old under organizational control through 2025, an opportunity that puts the Yankees in tremendous shape up the middle with Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Torres, and up-and-coming Estevan Florial due to arrive within the next year or so as New York’s centerfielder of the future.
Currently raking with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders (the former Cub blue chip, who joined the Yankee organization in 2016 through a trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to Chicago, has mustered a .389/.410/.583 triple slash line in 36 at-bats over nine games, showing no ill effects from last season’s Tommy John surgery), Torres has played the last four games at the Triple-A club consecutively at third base, likely in the vein of providing New York versatility with fellow prospect Miguel Andujar yielding tepid results and Brandon Drury remaining a question mark with migraines. Torres, naturally a shortstop, is currently blocked at the position, thanks to New York’s best hitter in Didi Gregorius.
That said, Tyler Wade has been abysmal at second base, hovering around a .100 at the plate, although Ronald Torreyes has done nothing but hit in light of Wade’s woes, doing so at a .429 clip. Neil Walker, signed initially to man second base, is able to slide in at first base with Greg Bird injured and Tyler Austin serving a five-game suspension after Wednesday’s fracas in Boston. Regardless, the supremely gifted Torres can easily play amongst three infield positions and deepen a reeling lineup, providing the big club a jolt to push them past their less-than-spectacular .500 start.
The Yankees, rained out in two of three games in Detroit over the weekend, a series that was supposed to bolster their position in the AL East, are now 5.5 games behind the Red Sox as of Sunday night. In light of the inaction, New York has even fallen to third in the division, two games back of the Toronto Blue Jays, whom the Yankees split against in the season-opening series, one they could have swept had it not been for a breakdown in the bullpen that has struggled early on, and will face off against at Yankee Stadium later this week.
While the addition of Torres will be welcome and timely, the move does very little to address what currently ails the Yankees: the starting rotation. CC Sabathia, due to return on Tuesday, has missed several starts due to a hip injury, and Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and Sonny Gray were obliterated in succession at Fenway this week. Gray, acquired at last year’s trade deadline for three top prospects in James Kaprelian, Jorge Mateo, and Dustin Fowler, posts a gaudy 6.92 ERA and 1.92 WHIP and has yet to string together a series of positive starts while showing minimal flashes of brilliance in pinstripes. Tanaka, with a 5.19 ERA, has already coughed up four homers, including a grand slam to J.D. Martinez that derailed a quality start and kept Boston in the game last Wednesday. Gray and Tanaka, along with Jordan Montgomery, are all posting an ERA+ of 91 or worse, with Gray’s ERA+ at an unsightly 62. New York, who welcomes Miami to New York for a two-game set earlier this week, truly needed the gift of the Tigers and Marlins’ series to jumpstart the offense and give the rotation a shot of confidence.
Instead, the Yankees, who still enjoyed two days off, will be looking, if not be forced, to sweep Miami and take three of four against Toronto before playing seventeen straight contests against the Twins, Angels, Astros, Indians, and Red Sox, with all five teams vying for playoff positions, and three, Boston, Minnesota, and Los Angeles, leading their respective divisions. Luckily for New York, three of those five series are at home, although that means nothing in the face of a scuffling rotation and a bullpen with few answers to Dellin Betances’ mounting problems and Tommy Kahnle’s confounding start to the season.
Even so, Didi has been brilliant and Aaron Judge has demonstrated a selective eye at the plate that has yielded a 1.036 OPS in spite of only three homers, a sign of the right fielder figuring things out and displaying a propensity for power in combination with getting on-base and hitting consistently: he boasts an eleven-game hitting streak with four multi-hit games over that span.
Without question, adding Torres to that mix can only help matters and forge the Yankees on a path toward playoff contention. But if, and only if, the rotation is up for it over the long haul.