MINNEAPOLIS — The New York Yankees are planning a big resurgence in the second half of the season after trading for third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle on Tuesday night.
While the three new Yankees might not be ready in time for the series finale in Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon, the Yankees could improve their outlook with a series win against the Twins.
“It should tell them, ‘Hey, we’re in this,’ and we need to continue to play and play hard and play better than we’ve done,” New York manager Joe Girardi said of the impact of the trade on his locker room. “But it should be a pick-me-up in there in a sense, like, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of people who believe in this club.'”
In exchange for Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle, the Yankees sent struggling reliever Tyler Clippard and three prospects to the Chicago White Sox.
“I think it’s important to do what we can to make our team better,” New York outfielder Brett Gardner said. “I know that (general manager Brian Cashman) and all those guys have a plan for the short term and the long term, and it’s up to us to trust in that, but it’s up to us to come in here and play hard and try to win a ballgame every single day, and hopefully we can get on a roll here on this road trip.”
The Yankees were 37-23 and led the American League East by four games after sweeping the Baltimore Orioles on June 11. Since then, they are 11-21, and they are 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the East. New York, however, holds a 1 1/2-game edge on Minnesota for the second AL wild card.
New York will send left-hander Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday seeking its first series win since beating the Orioles on June 11. Minnesota will counter with right-hander Jose Berrios (8-3, 3.70).
When the new arrivals land, Frazier will add more punch to a lineup that struggled offensively since the All-Star break before scoring five runs in the fifth inning on Tuesday. Girardi wasn’t sure if Frazier would play first or third base or where current third baseman Chase Headley would fit in.
Still, the trade excited Headley and the others in the locker room.
“It’s exciting that we did something to get better,” Headley said. “We’re in a tough stretch where we’re not playing great and we go out there and make a move still, that makes you feel like the front office and the team believes in us. So, hopefully we can play the way that we have most of the season now.”
One big offensive piece will be out of the lineup on Wednesday as Girardi said he plans to rest outfielder Aaron Judge, giving the youngster two days off before the weekend series in Seattle.
And if the offense continues its improvement, Girardi will be able to turn to a potentially dominant bullpen.
Robertson, the former Yankees closer, returns to his original major league club. He has a 2.70 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings while saving 13 games for the White Sox. Kahnle owns a 2.50 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 36 innings.
The two right-handers will join a bullpen that already had closer Aroldis Chapman (10 saves), setup man Dellin Betances (six saves, 2.87 ERA) and middle relievers Chasen Shreve (2.77 ERA), Adam Warren (1.91) and Chad Green (1.75).
“That could be really, really good,” Girardi said. “You’re talking about a lot of hard throwers, guys with strikeouts. A guy needs a day off, really, anyone can move into a spot. There’s a lot of flexibility.”
Shreve, Warren, Betances and Chapman all pitched Tuesday.
The Twins have had trouble with situational hitting. In their Tuesday loss, they left 12 runners on and were 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve been leaving men on base,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “It changes from person to person with the approach we take. I think the big thing is early in the count you have to have an idea of what you want to do, and if you get behind, you’ve got to fight, but I think we’re missing some pitches to take advantage of.”
Coming through against Montgomery won’t be easy for the Twins.
Montgomery has won four consecutive decisions, and he hasn’t lost in eight straight starts while allowing a .108 average with runners in scoring position in that span. He has yielded more than three runs just once in his past 10 starts, during which he compiled a 3.05 ERA. Montgomery has never faced Minnesota.
Berrios is coming off his worst outing of the season when he gave up seven runs — two earned — in 1 2/3 innings in a loss at Houston on Friday. Heading into his first career appearance against the Yankees, he has a 6.63 ERA over his past four starts.
“I followed my game plan, but they were ahead in most of the counts, and that’s how they were able to get to me early,” Berrios told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the loss to the Astros.
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