Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the Yankees have stepped up their support of former A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer. The Yankees were interested in Duchscherer back at the 2009 trade deadline, but could not work out a deal with the A’s at the time. I advocated the potential move at the time, and I would endorse bringing him on board now.
It is hard to question Justin’s ability as a pitcher. Here is a brief scouting report on Duke from 2009, written by Joe Pawlikowski of RAB:
Duchscherer is a cut fastball (high 80s, low 90s), overhand curve, slider type pitcher. He strikes out a decent number of guys, around 8 per nine as a reliever and was at 6 per nine as a starter in 2008. He also doesn’t walk many people, 1.5 per nine as a reliever in 2006 and 2.2 per nine as a starter in 08. Even better, he keeps the ball in the park, allowing less than a homer per nine over most of his career. This profiles him as a solid option at both starter and reliever.
The problem with Duke is a variety of health issues that make it difficult to project his performance going forward. He missed time in 2007 due to a hip issue, had some nagging injuries hamper him in 2008, lost the entire 2009 due to an elbow problem, and missed a large chunk of 2010 due to a problem with his other hip. Additionally, he has struggled with depression issues, and he has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which he feels is exacerbated by the uneven schedule that comes with being in the bullpen. Taken together, the case for Duchscherer reads much like the case for many of the low risk, high reward guys available at this time of the year. When he has pitched, he has been quite successful, but he has had trouble staying on the field.
I prefer Duchscherer over many of the other injury cases on the market, simply because he has produced better results than most of them while pitching in the American League. The criteria for adding a pitcher at this point is that he needs to have a legitimate chance to be better than what the Yankees currently have on staff. If Duchscherer is healthy, he has the best chance of anyone currently on the market of meeting that standard. I would rather the Yankees go with a higher upside, lower probability move over picking someone who may be likely to give you innings but who is fairly likely to perform terribly (see Freddy Garcia). For a contract between 1 and 2 million, I would take a chance on him.