Mitre to serve as fifth starter, for now


Prior to the start of last night’s Yankees-Tigers game, Joe Girardi made official what Joe mentioned at 4:30 yesterday: Sergio Mitre would be called up to the Bronx on Tuesday and will start against the Orioles in his Yankee debut. Mitre, 28 and a right-hander, will be making his first start since Sept. 15, 2007. He missed all of the 2008 season with Tommy John surgery.

For the Yankees, the need to turn to Mitre comes out of a variety of circumstances. At the top of that list is, of course, Chien-Ming Wang‘s woefully bad 2009. When Wang injured his foot last June, no one knew it would mark a downward spiral for the two-time 19-game winner. In fits and starts this year, Wang is 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA, and he is out indefinitely with a right shoulder strain.

Beyond Wang, the Yanks had two other pitchers ahead of Mitre on their depth charts. Phil Hughes and Alfredo Aceves were slotted to be the sixth and seventh starters respectively, but then the bullpen happened. Hughes, as we all know, had been pitching decently in the starting rotation in place of Wang in May, but when the Yanks activated the sinker-ball specialist in late May, Hughes was bounced from the rotation.

Instead of sending Hughes back to the minors to work on his innings, though, the Yanks decided to slot him into a bullpen role. Hughes, who no longer was challenged by AAA hitters, has more than exceeded expectations as a set-up man, and last night’s two-inning, six-strike out performance solidified his role as the Bridge to Mariano. At the same time, though, the Yankees have limited Hughes’ innings, and he isn’t prepared to jump back into the starting rotation.

Aceves’ path is a similar one. A starter at AAA to start the season, Aceves was summoned to the Bronx when it was clear that the Yanks needed a long reliever. He made one spot start — against the Twins before the break — but has been far better as a swing man in the pen. There, he is 5-1 with a 2.02 in 40 innings spanning 21 games. As Joe LaPointe reported, the Yanks know Hughes and Aceves are better options than Mitre. These two, however, are not really stretched out, and the team is very hesitant to mess with bullpen success.

So Mitre it will be. The Yanks signed Mitre for depth over the off-season, and now, it is depth they need. Never much of a heralded prospect, Mitre is 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA over 310.2 innings spanning parts of five seasons for the Cubs and Marlins. With a K/9 IP of just 5.4, he doesn’t strike out many hitters, but he has decent ground ball numbers.

The Yankees have to hope they can catch lightening in a bottle with Mitre. He has earned wins in back-to-back starts just three times in his career and is simply an arm right now. With Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte scuffling lately, the Yanks’ pitching depth and the team’s 2009 success is resting on what Mitre can do for a handful of starts. My fingers are crossed.

Categories : Pitching


  1. RAB poster says:

    I’d rather Aceves start than Mitre.

    The bullpen is the place for failed starters. Start Aceves, stck Mitre, a failed starter, in the pen.

  2. Joe R says:

    Oh what’d we do to have a healthy IPK right now.

  3. Accent Shallow says:

    With 40 pitches last night, they conceivably could stretch out Hughes over one to two more games. So it goes.

    • zs190 says:

      Maybe 3 innings in relief of Mitre on Tuesday. Unlikely but that would probably be the best way to stretch him out probably.

    • Mike bk says:

      i will repeat. if they planned on doing that it would have started two weeks ago when wang got hurt and by now using the ASB as a free five days in the schedule he would already be able to throw 75-80 pitches on tuesday. they have no intention of moving him to the rotation anytime soon.

      • Let's Talk About TEX Baby says:

        So frustrating that we’re going to have to suffer through Darrell Rasner/Sidney Ponson part 50 with Sergio Mitre while Phil Hughes, an actual talent, sits in the pen because of this fanatical belief that 8th inning setup is more important than a rotation spot.

  4. Accent Shallow says:

    I’m looking forward to the Mitre era a bit — I think he can be useful in a starting role, or perhaps out of the pen later in the year. I was under the impression he’d finally found his groove as a Marlin before pitching hurt. Ground balls are nothing to complain about.

  5. JimT says:

    I was just reading that Mitre was suspended 50 games for PEDs. He should fit right in with the Yankees.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      What’s Manny Alexander up to nowadays?

      • Accent Shallow says:

        Or Lou Merloni, for that matter?

        • Steve H says:

          Or Nomar/Manny/Trot/Papi/Gagne/Pedro/Mueller?

          • Accent Shallow says:

            This is just a random list of names.

            We know Manny and Gagne were users, but what about the rest of them?

            • Steve H says:

              Paxton Crawford is another one for you. And of course George Mitchell, of the Mitchell report fame, is a director for the Sox. Hmmm, so much for fair and balanced.

              • bxpd says:

                And, didn’t the infamous Jose Canseco play with the Sox before he ever joined the Yanks. Plus, how about Gabe Kapler? He’s never been linked, but giving up a year of your career to manage in the minors to then suddenly want to play again is kind of odd. The cynic in me says he took the year off to avoid testing. Of course, my theory is blown to pieces if coaches and managers are tested for PED’s as well.

                • Steve H says:

                  Yes, Jose was there. With Mo Vaughn, another Mitchell report member. Of course he only started using when after he left the Sox……sure.

                • Zach says:

                  Dont get your argument about Kapler avoiding testing. There was testing before he retired, and testing since he came back.

                • bxpd says:

                  Totally not making an argument but was there any disciplinary action taken against players back then like there is today?

  6. OmgZombies! says:

    Just when I started having faith in the decisions the Yankees FO make, they go and fukk it up thrice in a row.

  7. pat says:

    1) There’s probably a reason they signed this guy so quickly way back in November, they must have seen something promising they liked.

    2) He’ll probably get 4 or 5 starts, if he bombs, Ivan Nova come on down.

    • RAB poster says:

      Is Ivan Nova a prospect or another failed major leaguer? I heard that he’s been doing well.

      • pat says:

        Prospect, very good stuff but had never learned to harness it until this year. He was actually left unprotected in the rule V draft and selected by the padres. He couldn’t stick on their mlb roster and was returned a few weeks into spring training. Somehow that woke him up and he has pitched very well since then.

        • RAB poster says:


          Honestly I’d rather try a prospect than a failed major leaguer, so we’ll see how it goes.

          • RAB poster says:

            *but* we’ll see how it goes.

          • Zach says:

            failed major leaguer? I know you keep saying it just to start something but i wouldnt consider someone with a league average era when he got his first consistant chance to start before he needed TJS a ‘failure’

            but from last year isnt Hughes a failed major leaguer? get him out of here

            • RAB poster says:

              Zach-A 5.36 ERA is certainly not a sucessful major leaguer.

              Did you ever think I kept posting that not to start something, but because that was my actual opinion? Just, you know, saying. It’s a possibility.

              • Zach says:

                again dude, thats his career era. i said his era when he finally got a chance at consistant starts and not back and forth to the bullpen and spot starts, but thanks for reading

                • RAB poster says:

                  I know, someone else mentioned that to me.

                  MY point is that he’s a 28 year old minor leaguer for a reason. He could do well of course (see Aaron Small) but it’s not likely.

                • Zach says:

                  hes a 28 year old minor leaguer because hes rehabbing from tommy john surgery.

                • Zach says:

                  im not saying hes a prospect or the future of the rotation, but acting like he’s the Cody Ransom of pitching isnt fair to him

                • RAB poster says:

                  Would he be a SP if he were not rehabbing?

                  Fair enough, he’s not Cody Ransom. But he’s not that good either.

                • Zach says:

                  mitre went into the season as the marlin’s #3 starter before he needed surgery, so yes, he would be a SP there, or traded like Marlins always do

                • RAB poster says:

                  I mean, on let’ssay the ReD sox with Smoltz pitching badly, assuming that continues would he have a spot there?

                • RAB poster says:

                  Sorry for the typos.

                  I mean, on let’s say he’s in the Red sox system, Smoltz is pitching badly, assuming that continues would he have a spot there?

                • Zach says:

                  Wouldnt Buchholz fill that spot? Bowden?
                  Different systems, different depth. Never said he was a 23 year old hot shot, he’s a back of the rotation arm like I’ve continue to say

                • RAB poster says:

                  Back of the rotation arm. Exactly.

                  Let’s face it, he’s mediocre at best. He has the ability to go on a nice run, but overall 5.36 is 5.36.

                • Zach says:

                  When he finally got his shot: 4.65 is 4.65

                • Zach says:

                  “Let’s face it, he’s mediocre at best”
                  a far cry from “failure”

                • RAB poster says:

                  All right. I revise “failed” starter to “mediocre at best” starter.


                • Zach says:

                  yes much better

            • RAB poster says:

              Call me back when Mitre magically turns 23.

  8. Stryker says:

    i was a fan of the mitre signing to begin with. he made an insane jump in innings from ’05 – ’06 (41 to 149!!) but the guy’s got good enough stuff to be used as an emergency starter.

    i think it’s kind of sad that we could have used hughes in the this situation had the yankees done something about it but CONTINUE to refuse to. they are fucking up his development as far as the amount of innings he’d be able to pitch next season and beyond with the way they’re doing things right now.

  9. Joba-to-the-Pen says:

    Why have Hughes as a reliever if we can’t use him back to back days?Just like Joba’s as a starter Hughes stats look better then they are because they are not allowed to pitch like normal starters and relievers.Hughes is only better now because he’s throwing harder,he never threw 94 or 95.

    If you are gonna make Hughes a reliever okay but use him like one.Not as a guy who pitches every 3 days.

  10. [...] The Yanks plan to take it slow with Wang and will not target a return date yet. Considering how little faith we collectively have in Sergio Mitre, the sooner Wang returns the better. Posted on Saturday, [...]

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