Will Washburn Come Back to Haunt the Yankees?


Aug 1, 2009

Will Washburn Come Back to Haunt the Yankees? The trade deadline came and went without the Yankees making a significant move. With a need for a true major league starter to fill out their rotation, the pinstripes could be in trouble now and down the road.

According to various reports, the Yankees made a play for Mariners lefty Jarrod Washburn. Seattle first wanted Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner for Washburn, before later asking for either Jesus Montero or Austin Jackson. With Cabrera and Gardner needed on the major league roster and Montero and Jackson deemed untouchable, the asking price seemed a bit high.

So while Brian Cashman stood pat waiting for the M's to settle for less, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers took advantage of the situation to acquire Washburn for 23-year-old lefty Lucas French and left-handed prospect Mauricio Robles. And now with Washburn joining Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, the Tigers will have a very legitimate starting three if they hold on to first in the AL Central and reach the postseason.

Since the Yankees failed to add a reliable arm to their staff, Cashman now must decide whether Sergio Mitre deserves another shot or if it’s time to call up Kei Igawa (who was a Triple-A All-Star this season) to try to put out the fire that has been started by the gaping hole in the rotation.

On Friday, the same day the Tigers added Washburn to their club, Mitre took the mound at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The Yankees staked him to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first against the White Sox, but Mitre was absolutely horrendous, allowing five earned runs on seven hits over three innings. His ERA jumped to 7.90 in three starts, and his 1.98 WHIP since joining the Yankees’ rotation is far from respectable. Mitre hasn't exactly put together promising numbers for someone Joe Girardi has to send to the hill every fifth day.

Not only did the Yankees’ decision to pass on Washburn directly impact their own rotation, but the decision to not make a move for Washburn could very well come back to destroy the Yankees' season in October.

Take a look at the standings. Granted there are two months left in the season and plenty of time for teams to flip-flop, but right now, it would be the Yankees and Tigers meeting in the ALDS for the second time in four years. And starting one of the first three game against the Yankees will be the man they lost out on to the Tigers. Before Friday, Jim Leyland would have had to use 20-year-old rookie Rick Porcello or Armando Galarraga and his 4.84 ERA in that role. Now Leyland has Washburn for a Game 3, a pitcher who has had little trouble with the Yankees in his career.

Washburn is just 5-6 in 13 career starts against the Yankees, but don't let the record fool you. The veteran left-hander has a 2.76 ERA against the Bombers. And as a member of the 2002 Angels, he played a key role in ending the Yankees' run at being American League champions for the fifth time in row as Anaheim downed New York in four games in the ALDS.

With Washburn in the Tigers’ rotation, Detroit gets the left-handed presence they lacked with hard-throwing righties Verlander and Jackson atop the rotation. Washburn can only help by mixing up the opposition's look – he can use a plethora of breaking balls rather than having to rely on his fastball to record outs. And with 12 big league seasons under his belt and seven postseason starts, there is no denying that the Tigers improved greatly by adding him to the mix.

It's not unreasonable to think that the Yankees’ inability to add Washburn could cost them a trip to the postseason. But if they are able to make it there without adding another reliable arm, it's not unreasonable to believe Washburn could have a hand in ending their second season in the first round once again.

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