I don’t really need to harp on just how bad the Yankees bullpen has been over the last few weeks, but stick with me for a minute.
After last night’s loss dropped the team to 3-9 over the last 12 games, the bullpen’s season numbers are horrific. In 92 innings this year, the pen has put together a 6-6 record with a 6.26 ERA. The combined might of the Yankee relievers has resulted in 95 hits — 21 of which have left the park — as well as 49 walks.
One of the few bullpen right spots in the early going was Brian Bruney. In nine appearances spanning eight innings, Bruney had allowed 3 earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. He had struck out 12 and had claimed the set-up spot as part of the Bridge to Mowhere.
But it was not to last. The oft-injured Bruney found himself on the disabled list 15 days ago. Initially, the Yankees said the right-hander would return after the minimum, but the news now is not quite as sunny. Bruney threw yesterday for the first time since Sunday, and while he reported no pain, he says he still needs at least another two weeks to ramp up his arm to game-ready condition.
For now, the Yankee bullpen will have to keep it together for a few more weeks, but the more interesting aspect of Bruney’s injury is how he thinks he got it. A few weeks ago, he said he was working too hard in between starts. Now, he says that a long instant-replay review caused him to overextend himself. Bruney is talking about the Yanks’ April 19th victory over the Indians when a Jorge Posada pinch-hit fly ball just cleared the right field fence. Mike and I were at that game, and it took the umpires nearly 10 minutes to reach a decision upon review.
“There’s no reason to have an 8 1/2 minute delay,” Bruney said to reporters yesterday. “In my opinion, that’s why I did get hurt. I didn’t know if that umpiring crew is going to come out in 30 seconds or two minutes. So I’ve got to keep throwing.”
Of course, Bruney then admitted that he threw more pitches than normal during a side session to keep warm. Perhaps he’s just looking for scapegoats as injured players are wont to do. Either way, Bruney brings up a valid point: The instant replay reviews should be time-limited. Umpires don’t need that much time to review a call. Two or three minutes should be ample.
In the end, while the Yanks won that April game in an exciting fashion, they lost Bruney, a key cog, in the process. For now, they’ll just have to get by without him.