Mike Francesa: Strasburg A Better Fit For Yankees Than Cole

Zack Wheeler Also A Good Option For The Pinstripes

Mike's On
November 20, 2019 - 6:17 pm

The Yankees are in need of starting pitching and with multiple free-agent options available, Mike Francesa believes Stephen Strasburg might be the best fit.

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“I would think Strasburg would be the more logical guy for the Yankees,” Francesa said while offering uncertainty over the desire of Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner to pitch on the East Coast.

Last season, Strasburg pitched more than 200 innings for the first time since 2014, while helping the Washington Nationals to a World Series championship, proving October dominance with a 1.46 ERA in nine career playoff games.

While landing one starting pitcher should be the Yankees’ priority, Francesa also painted a dream scenario of bolstering their rotation with two free-agents.

“One of the things that’s been mentioned about free agency is whether or not any team could sign two guys.” Francesa said during his Wednesday afternoon show on WFAN. “Not that you’re going to sign Cole and Strasburg, but could you sign Cole and Wheeler?”

As for the former Mets' starter, Francesa thinks Zack Wheeler could be a strong fallback option for the Yankees if they don’t land Strasburg or Cole.

“I think Wheeler’s a sneaky good pitcher,” Mike said. “On the Yankees, where they’re going to score a lot of runs, a guy like that who can get deep into the game and with the Yankee bullpen, he’s going to win a lot of games. He could be a lot better than people think.”

 Zack Wheeler pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at Citi Field.
USA Today Sports Images

After missing 2015 and 2016 due to injury, Wheeler began showing the potential the Mets thought they acquired when they traded their now manager Carlos Beltran for him in 2011. During the last two seasons, the 29-year old Wheeler proved to be durable, making 60 starts with a 3.65 ERA, averaging a strikeout per inning.

While Strasburg and Cole are expected to remain free-agents deep into the winter, Wheeler can take advantage of the early market as a lot of teams are in search of ways to improve their starting rotations.

“Wheeler can own the early market with a lot of teams saying, ‘why don’t I just lock Wheeler up,’ because you know (Scott) Boras is going to wait with his guys…he doesn’t move quickly,” Francesa said. Both Strasburg and Cole are represented by Boras.

For the second year in a row, Wheeler showed drastic improvement as the season progressed.  After Aug. 1, Wheeler chopped his ERA by nearly a run, from 4.71 to 3.96. During his last 11 starts of the season, Wheeler pitched to a 2.66 ERA, going seven innings or more in six of those starts.

Francesa estimates Cole might command a contract in the range of $240 million, while Wheeler could cost less than half that amount. The former Mets’ pitcher will reportedly see offers around $100 million over five-years.

“Why compete for a guy you might not get, when you can lock up a guy who’s a little better than you think, a little more dependable than you think, a little more durable than you think,” Francesa said of Wheeler.