MLB trade rumors: Has Yankees’ rotation proven it doesn’t need reinforcement?

NEW YORK – Brian Cashman has talked openly about the Yankees’ need to add a quality starting pitcher.

As a result, the past few weeks have been chock full of the outside world thinking up trade scenarios, determining which prospects could be most valuable and reporting on every trip a scout makes.

So goes the MLB trade deadline.

Meanwhile in the Bronx, the Yankees have five pitchers doing their best to prove Cashman wrong.

Yes, it’s just one turn through the rotation, but the Yankees’ starters look like their on a mission to prove the talent this team currently has is enough.

Frankly, the numbers since the All-Star break certainly show a rotation capable of winning more than just July games. Each of the Yankees’ five starters – Domingo German, J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and C.C. Sabathia have pitched once since the second half began. The result? Eight earned runs allowed over 29 1/3 innings, which is good for a 2.45 ERA.

And if you stretch the window back a bit further, the stats still look great; Yankees starters have a 2.86 ERA over 66 innings in 11 games this month.

Obviously, that’s still a small sample size. But it sure dovetails nicely with manager Aaron Boone’s recent insistence that he already has enough talent to get the job done, even if a trade-deadline upgrade never comes.

“Every guy we hand the ball to, we know is really capable,” Boone said. “C.C., another good start (Tuesday night) – he’s had a few now in a row. I think we give the ball to Domingo tomorrow, we’re excited about that. We know the five we’re running out there right now give us a great chance to win every day.”

As Boone mentioned, the recent re-emergence of Sabathia and German have both been hugely positive factors for the Yankees. So too has Paxton seemingly finding some consistency for the first time this year.

Until Monday, Paxton had not pieced together three straight quality starts all season long. But after tossing six innings of two-run ball against the Rays, he’s now allowed just five earned over 18 innings in his last three starts – and that has him understandably encouraged.

“I feel like it’s been a constant build for me the last few starts,” Paxton said. “The first time out, I finally got my fastball going a little bit, then my breaking ball has been getting better and better and better the last few starts – and just continuing to work on that and dial that in.”

Sabathia backed that up Paxton’s good vibes by completing six innings – with three earned runs allowed – on Tuesday for the fourth straight start, something he had not accomplished since 2016.

And German, in his two starts since returning from injury, has returned to his dominant ways from earlier this season; he’s allowed just one run over 12 innings since being activated from the injured list.

So, all that said, do the Yankees relievers feel like they’re proving a point right now?

In a sense, yes – though it may not be one directly aimed at Cashman.

“I don’t think so – we’re just doing our jobs,” Paxton said. “We’re just focused on giving our team the best chance to win that day and everyone is doing a fantastic job. Whether they add somebody or not, this is New York. They want to win. And they’re going to make the team the best they possibly can. It’s kind of out of our control.”

That may be the case, but the Yankees’ current five starters are undoubtedly making it harder for Cashman to figure out who he’ll replace – if and when he eventually pulls the trigger on a deal.

Though as problems go, that’s a pretty good one to have.

“We have a good rotation,” Sabathia said. “We’re capable of going out and doing this and putting up good starts, so hopefully we continue to just keep doing it.”

Matt Stypulkoski may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @M_Stypulkoski. Find Jets on Facebook.

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