Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees are intrigued by Toronto's J.A. Happ, but as they weigh potential rotation upgrades, the front office does have one question about the lefty, according to people familiar with their thinking: How much would help would he be in an October series against the Houston Astros?
Happ is AL East-tested and boasts a 7-3 career record against Boston, with a 3.09 ERA. With the division so tight, he would help the Yankees top the Red Sox and avoid a one-game wild-card game. That seems valuable enough to make a deal.
But it's fair to note -- and Yankees people have -- that the ultimate point is to get past the defending champs and advance to the World Series. The Astros are a tough task for any lefty, with a lineup that includes no fewer than six right-handed threats (Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis and George Springer) and a switch-hitter in Marwin Gonzalez.
In a tiny sample, Happ has been decent against Houston over the past two seasons. On June 25, he allowed three runs in six innings and beat Justin Verlander. In one start last year, he allowed six runs (two earned) and three homers in four innings.
Cole Hamels, another lefty whom the Yankees are considering, has started four games for Texas against the division rival Astros this season, and is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA, allowing 19 hits over 24 innings.
Both Happ and Hamels have playoff experience dating back to their days with the Philadelphia Phillies, and both are superlative competitors. With few other options on the trade market, the Yankees will likely need one of the two. As one scout at Yankee Stadium put it on Monday night, "They're built to win the World Series right now."