The Yankees sent a top evaluator to watch free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel throw a sim game in Newport Beach, Calif., on Sunday, Erik Boland of Newsday reports. That’s not necessarily an indication Keuchel is destined to land in the Bronx once his months-long trek to the open market ends, though. Watching Keuchel may have simply been a case of the team doing its due diligence, as Boland notes. Regardless, the 31-year-old Keuchel has been throwing sim games roughly every five days in hopes of staying in shape for whichever club signs him. As a result, Keuchel’s “not too far away from where he was at the end of last season,” Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets.
- New York’s rotation is about to benefit from a different established southpaw, James Paxton, who manager Aaron Boone said could come off the injured list Wednesday (via Boland). Paxton has been on the shelf since May 5 with a left knee injury, thus halting a terrific first season in New York. The former Mariner opened 2019 in spectacular fashion before going on the IL, tossing 37 2/3 innings of 3.11 ERA/2.50 FIP ball with 12.42 K/9 against 3.11 BB/9.
- In further positive news for the Yankees’ pitching staff, reliever Dellin Betances will throw off a mound Monday for the first time in his rehab process, per Boone (via Hoch). Betances hasn’t pitched at all this season because of a bone spur in his right shoulder. With late-game hurlers Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton and Tommy Kahnle bridging the gap to closer Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees’ bullpen has gotten along fine without Betances. But Betances, a four-time All-Star, has long been the club’s go-to setup man and one of the game’s premier relievers. He’ll be a key summer reinforcement for the Yankees if his recovery stays on course.
- Speaking of reinforcements, right fielder Aaron Judge – out since April 21 – is making progress as he works back from a left oblique strain, Hoch relays. “I’m feeling really good,” Judge told Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network on Sunday. “We’re progressing the way we want to, and it’s a good sign getting a chance to get on the field again and throw a little bit. It feels good to be back — sort of.” The slugger still hasn’t received clearance to swing a bat, but he’s hopeful that will change early this week. Even though Judge is the Yankees’ leading position player, they’ve managed to rip off 24 wins in 32 games without him or fellow injured superstar corner outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup. Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Cameron Maybin and Mike Tauchman (who’s currently in the minors) have held down the fort since Judge and Stanton have been laid up.