I have pushed for the Yankees to acquire Justin Duchscherer to solidify the back of their rotation on numerous occasions. A few weeks ago, Jerry Crasnick reported that the Yankees were pursuing Duchscherer, but nothing seemed to come of it. As I said at the time, Duch is likely the most talented of the pitchers currently on the market, but has some red flags surrounding him:
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.
The depression issues have led some to question his ability to handle New York, and Britt Ghiroli asked him about that issue yesterday. He said:
Free agent Justin Duchscherer, considered one of the best starting pitchers still on the market, said Tuesday evening that physically he feels “pretty much 100 percent” and shot down the notion that his previous depression issues would prevent him from playing in New York.
“I find it funny that people say I can’t pitch in that environment, but I’ve pitched in New York before,” he said. “As far as my mind, I have no problem being anywhere. Physically it’s a matter of what’s the best situation for me.”
He went on to discuss his health and contended that he is “pretty much 100 percent.” I recommend reading the rest of the article. Duch is very honest about his injuries, and rules out going back to the bullpen in 2011. If he signs in New York, he is going to want to start. Hopefully, the Yankees bring him in and give him a shot to seize the 4th or 5th starter slot, as he certainly passes the “better than Mitre” test.