With less than 24 hours to go before the MLB trade deadline, the Yankees are gearing up for the playoffs. They beefed up their pitching within hours on Monday afternoon before they took on potential postseason contender Seattle at the Stadium. They added Frankie Montas to the rotation and then added Lou Trivino and Scott Effross to the bullpen in two trades.
Montas was the big move the Yankees needed to make to get their rotation ready for a possible rematch with the Astros in the playoffs.
“I’m really excited about it. He’s a great pitcher. Obviously there’s been rumors around him most of the first half of the season and I am excited we were able to push through on a deal for him. His level of talent especially with how he’s pitched the last couple of years,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I am just excited to get him in the mix.”
In 19 starts this season, Montas has posted a 3.18 ERA with a .233/.284/.372 slash line and a .656 OPS against. Montas, who is a free agent after this season, has struck out 109 over 104.2 innings pitched. The 29-year old is striking out hitters at a 25.6% rate and walking them at just a 6.6% pace.
“He has a strong body, repeatable delivery. He has three plus pitches (fastball, slider, splitter) with swing and miss stuff,” one scout who has seen Montas several times this season said. “When contact is made, it’s generally off the barrel. He has solid control, pretty steady without a lot of variance.”
He pitched in the Bronx June 28, holding the Bombers to two earned runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out seven in that A’s loss.
“I would say his numbers this year are an accurate indication of who he is, the start at (Yankee Stadium) in June pretty much sums up who he is,” the scout added.
Montas also had a shoulder issue this season, but his velocity has returned to expected levels. The Bombers have had a scout on him several times this season, including down the stretch to the deadline.
Montas immediately goes to the front of the rotation with Gerrit Cole, especially since the Yankees moved Luis Severino to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster. That means Severino will not be eligible to come off the IL until mid-September.
Trivino and Effross bolster a bullpen that has taken several hits this season, most recently losing Michael King and Miguel Castro, who the Yankees also moved to the 60-day IL.
“He’s way undervalued,” an American League scout said of Trivino. “Much better than his numbers. Solid setup man, especially vs. right-handed hitters. He has been overworked the past couple of years.”
Trivino has made 39 appearances this season with 10 saves. He’s struck 45 in 32.1 innings pitched. He has the highest strikeout rate, 28.7%, and lowest walk rate, 8.9%, of his career.
Trivino, 30, is 20-23 with a 4.04 ERA (263.0IP, 234H, 131R/118ER, 120BB, 277K, 28HR) in 260 appearances (one start) over five Major League seasons, all with Oakland (2018-22). Over his big league career, he has held right-handed batters to a .211 batting average, .299 on-base percentage and .319 slugging percentage (.618 OPS), with 117H, 16 doubles, 1 triple, 14HR, 60BB and 173K in 632 batters faced (554AB).
“We feel like he’s having a little bit of a down year statistically, but we don’t think in line with what we’re seeing on some of the underlying things and who we think he is,” Boone said. “So he’s obviously been a very good reliever for them on some playoff teams.”
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Effross is 1-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 47 appearances, including one start. He is second in the majors in appearances. The right-handed pitcher has held opponents to a .220/.267/.299 slash line this season and been particularly effective against lefties (.132/.220/.245)
He has stranded 24 of his 28 inherited runners this year, the third-best mark in the National League.
Effross has not allowed a run in 20 of his 24 relief appearances since the beginning of June, posting a 2.01 ERA (22.1IP, 5ER) in that span.
The 28-year old features the two pitches the Yankees like in their relievers. A slider, which he throws 40% of the time, and a sinker, 36% of the time.
“Sinker-slider guy that comes from a different slot with plus control and command,” an American League scout said of Efross. “Fits Yankee Stadium very well and doesn’t give up much hard contact.”
The changes came with a steep cost.
The Yankees sent left-handed pitchers JP Sears and Ken Waldichuk, infielder Cooper Bowman and right-hander Luis Medina to the A’s for Montas and Trivino. They sent Hayden Wesneski to the Cubs for Effross.