The New York Yankees have acted swiftly in the wake of their loss of ace Masahiro Tanaka to a UCL tear. Friday afternoon the team confirmed its acquisition of pitcher Jeff Francis from the Oakland Athletics.
Francis, a ten-year MLB veteran, has been used mostly in relief this season splitting time between the Cincinnati Reds and A’s. He made one start for the Reds before being claimed off waivers by Oakland on May 18. With Oakland he posted a somewhat misleading 6.08 ERA in nine relief appearances spanning 13.1 innings. Over that time Francis sported a 3.50 FIP and 1.050 WHIP, suggesting that his inflated ERA was largely a product of bad luck.
While been used as a starter for most of his career Francis hasn’t been a full-time starter since mid-2013. He has started 207 games and owns a career 4.95 ERA and 1.438 WHIP.
It will be interesting to see if the Yankees install their new pitcher into their banged up rotation which seems their most likely move. If they do, their season won’t be saved by any means but Francis’s veteran presence should help a rotation which has lost C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova. All three are on the 60-day DL.
Of course there is the chance that Francis may pitch better with new scenery behind him. Prior to playing for the Reds and the A’s, Francis spent the majority of his career with the Colorado Rockies playing at the pitchers’ nightmare that is Coors Field.
However, Yankee Stadium is also a bandbox and the American League tends to inflate ERA’s. Still though, the Yankees are very much in the AL East race with a 46-45 record despite an injury-filled first half of the season and many of their expensive new hitters have been under-performing. They trail the first-place Baltimore Orioles by four games.