Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees' splashy additions won't be enough to catch Red Sox

Alex Reimer
July 27, 2018 - 11:26 am

The Yankees did it. They used their robust farm system to procure one of the best relievers on the trade market and perhaps the best available starting pitcher. 

But the Red Sox have no reason to be frightened. JA Happ and Zach Britton aren’t going to bring the Yankees back from their 4.5-game deficit in the AL East. In fact, Aaron Judge’s wrist injury is the event from this week that could have the greatest impact on the Yankees’ fortunes. He’ll reportedly be out for three weeks, sidelining him for the Yankees-Red Sox clash next weekend. 

Make no mistake: the additions of Britton and Happ make the Yankees better. Britton, who went 1-2-3 in his first Yankees appearance Thursday, enjoyed one of the best seasons for a reliever in baseball history just two years ago. In 2016, he led the league with 47 saves and posted a 0.54 ERA, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting. Though Britton missed the first 2.5 months of the season with an achilles injury, he’s back on track, not allowing a single run in eight appearances this month.

The Yankees paid a hefty price for Britton, centering the three-prospect haul around right-hander Dillon Tate, their No. 9-ranked prospect. In the Red Sox’ system, Tate would probably be in the top five

In the playoffs, power pitching in the bullpen is arguably just as important as strong starting pitching these days. The Yankees can now trot out Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Britton, David Robertson and Chad Green at the end of games. There’s no reason for any of their starting pitchers to go three times through the batting order. 

But there’s a limit to how much impact Britton can have in the regular season. One-inning relievers generally don’t lead teams on extended runs.

Happ is in position to be a bigger contributor for the remainder of the season. He’s enjoyed tremendous success against the Red Sox, sporting a 1.78 ERA in 10 starts since 2015. But his recent performance has been wretched. The 35-year-old lefty has a 6.03 ERA over his last six starts.

For the last six weeks, Happ has pitched like Sonny Gray, his recent win over Kansas City aside. 

If the Red Sox play sub-.500 play the rest of the way, they’ll still win more than 100 games. The division is in their firm control, despite the Yankees’ additions. 

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