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Bullpen upgrades could be the Yankees’ area of ​​focus before the trade deadline

BOSTON – The old Yankee version of Carlos Rodon is so 2023 that even after a very rough start, the veteran lefty managed to survive five innings on Saturday night.

That alone saved the Yankees from running a bullpen carousel at Fenway Park in an 8-4 win over the Red Sox in front of 36,673 fans.

“I wanted to do much better than that. Very frustrating,” said Rodon, who yielded three doubles in a three-run first inning and a two-out, two-run double to Rafael Devers in the second.

“I wish I could have found out a lot sooner,” said Rodon, who retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced.

Still, “we had our chances to get back in the game,” manager Aaron Boone said, praising the way Rodon “worked his way through a season-high 109 pitches.”

With all of their high-leverage relievers rested and ready, the Yankees will try for another series win on Sunday night, with Marcus Stroman starting.

Additional encouragement came on Saturday afternoon when Gerrit Cole – fresh from his latest successful rehabilitation start – walked into the visitors’ clubhouse.

There’s a good chance that Cole, who is dealing with ulnar nerve irritation, will re-enter the Yankees’ rotation on Thursday against the dangerous second-place Baltimore Orioles.

Friday night’s homecoming hero, Alex Verdugo, went 0-for-5 on Saturday, but Juan Soto – with two walks and a solo home run – has now reached base multiple times in a career-best eleven games .

So that’s the bright side of a losing night for the Yankees (50-23) at Fenway, where the Red Sox (36-35) still needed a four-out save from Kenley Jansen.

Yankees could request a bullpen upgrade before the trade deadline

June 15, 2024;  Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  New York Yankees right fielder Alex Verdugo (24) talks with Boston Red Sox Tristan Casas (36) during batting practice at Fenway Park.  Mandatory credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsJune 15, 2024;  Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  New York Yankees right fielder Alex Verdugo (24) talks with Boston Red Sox Tristan Casas (36) during batting practice at Fenway Park.  Mandatory credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

June 15, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Alex Verdugo (24) talks with Boston Red Sox Tristan Casas (36) during batting practice at Fenway Park. Mandatory credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

But if you want to look at an area that may need to be upgraded before the trade deadline, let’s go back to the bullpen.

When Boone was a kid, the MLB trade deadline was June 15, so rosters would basically have been set by now.

These days, there are still 46 shopping days to go before the numbers are recorded, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman likes to say, and there is incentive to do some serious research on available relievers.

The Yankees may still be trying to figure out what they have in left-handers Victor Gonzalez and Caleb Ferguson, though Ferguson has proven to be much more reliable as of late — striking out four in 1.1 innings in Friday night’s win here.

This week, Miami Marlins lefty closer Tanner Scott — in his free agent walk year — was linked by Jon Heyman of the New York Post to interest from several contending clubs, including the Yankees.

Scott has a 1.93 ERA in 27 games this year, although his 1.55 strikeout-to-walk ratio is somewhat shocking.

But a lefty reliever and another swing-and-miss setup man to complement sinker-slider closer Clay Holmes appears to be high on the Yanks’ July wish list.

That’s where Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox and Mason Miller of the Oakland Athletics enter the potential trade discussion, though the asking price should be sky-high — especially for Miller, years away from free agency.

Exploring the Yankees’ internal bullpen options

August 20, 2022;  Bronx, New York, USA;  New York Yankees relief pitcher Scott Effross (59) throws the ball during the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY SportsAugust 20, 2022;  Bronx, New York, USA;  New York Yankees relief pitcher Scott Effross (59) throws the ball during the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

August 20, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Scott Effross (59) throws the ball during the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

You’ll recall that this was a Yankee team that expected Jonathan Loaisiga to be a key setup man, but lost him early this year to a season-ending elbow tear.

Hard-throwing Nick Burdi was the talk of spring training, but he’s had a star-studded career due to injuries and is currently sidelined for the second time this year with a hip injury.

Right-handers Scott Effross (elbow, back surgery) and/or JT Brubaker (elbow surgery) may return and contribute during the second half, but that is still unknown.

Meanwhile, Lou Trivino suffered a setback during his rehabilitation due to Tommy John surgery, which could leave him completely out of the picture.

In their current bullpen, it’s a tight circle of trust after Holmes, with Luke Weaver emerging as an effective multi-inning option and Ian Hamilton providing the necessary swing-and-miss.

But Tommy Kahnle has seen his velocity dip since returning from the injured list due to a shoulder problem dating to last season.

“Hopefully it improves a little bit, but he can definitely still throw at this speed,” Boone said. “If he does that, regardless of whether he gets a big speed increase or not, he should still be able to be really successful.”

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Bullpen upgrades could be Yankees’ area of ​​focus ahead of trade deadline