Marcus Stroman
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Report: Yankees have expressed interest in Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have reached out to the Blue Jays about a potential trade for right-hander Marcus Stroman. They’ve also scouted Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner, though there don’t appear to be ongoing discussions between the two sides just yet.

While no deal seems imminent on either front, the Yankees could certainly use the extra rotation help, and Davidoff adds that they intend to do so in advance of next month’s trade deadline. The club is currently working with a rotation that ranks 13th-best in the league (per FanGraphs), hampered in part by injuries to Luis Severino (rotator cuff inflammation), Domingo Germán (left hip flexor strain), Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder strain) and Jordan Montgomery (Tommy John surgery). A starter of Stroman or Bumgarner’s caliber would undeniably give them the boost they need to improve that ranking and stabilize the rotation as they move toward the postseason.

As MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand pointed out on Saturday, however, the Yankees still have reason to hesitate before making any sizable upgrades to their pitching staff, especially with Severino nearing the end of his recovery from right shoulder inflammation. Per Feinsand, the club may wait to see how Severino’s recovery process plays out before jumping into the fray for Stroman or Bumgarner, both of whom are expected to command sizable returns on the trade market. Complicating matters is the issue of Severino’s return date, which will be ‘sometime in July’ and could put more pressure on the team to make a quick decision before the deadline.

Stroman, 28, has been a fairly stable presence in the Blue Jays’ rotation for the last six seasons. Despite some hiccups — including a disastrous six-run, four-strikeout performance against the Diamondbacks on Friday — he’s already started to improve on his 2018 totals, turning in a 3-8 record in 14 starts with a 3.31 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, and 6.9 SO/9 through 81 2/3 innings. He’ll remain under team control through the 2020 season, too, giving the Yankees another viable long-term starting option next to Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and the soon-to-be-retired CC Sabathia.

Bumgarner, on the other hand, no longer looks like the stalwart ace that once led the Giants to multiple World Series titles. His last several campaigns in the majors have been overshadowed by injuries, including a shoulder sprain and fractured finger, and he’s pitched to a mediocre 3-5 record in 13 starts with a 4.05 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, and 8.9 SO/9 across 80 innings this year. Should the 29-year-old lefty strike a deal with the Yankees (whom, it should be said, are one of eight teams on his no-trade list), it would be on a much less permanent basis, as he’s slated to enter free agency at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.