One point we harped on for much of the spring and then through April is that the Yankees had and still have a decently flexible bullpen. When the likes of Edwar, Albaladejo, and to an extent Jose Veras dropped the ball, the Yanks had options to pick them back up. That worked out smashingly as the team worked through May and June. Recently, though, they’ve run into another wall.
Part of the solution could be getting Aceves back into the pen, depending on how the team decides to use Chien-Ming Wang’s rotation spot. There are other spots that might need a replacement as well. The Yankees continue to hold Brett Tomko, who is decent in mop-up duty and little else. We’ve also seen David Robertson’s flaws exposed. He’s had some good stretches for the team, but his recent penchant for allowing inherited runners won’t help his case to stay in the majors.
To whom could the Yankees turn in the second half to take these spots? Here are just a few names.
Mark Melancon: Yes, he’s up with the team already, but he’s technically in Wang’s spot. The Yanks could opt to keep the more promising Melancon over Robertson or Tomko. Chances are, though, that he’ll have to provide a few good innings before the Yanks decide to keep him.
Jon Alabaladejo: After starting the season in the bigs, Albaladejo faltered a bit and the Yanks optioned him to AAA. He flourished there, pitching to an ERA under 2. He did pitch well in his brief stint back, but the Yankees had to option him to get another relief arm up.
Sergio Mitre: Whether as a starter or reliever, chances are Mitre will see the Bronx this year.
Ivan Nova: After years of scouts raving about his potential, he appears to be putting it together. It’s been just a few starts in AAA, so they’ll let him incubate a bit longer. Still, the Yanks could bring him up for starting or relief duty in August.
Zach Kroenke: A 1.17 ERA at AAA will get you noticed. Throwing with your left arm will probably get you a call-up at some point. Then again, the Marlins did return him after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft.
Anthony Claggett: Unfortunately, we all remember the Claggett experiment. He’s pitched well at AAA, but the walks are a bit high for a bullpen arm.
Mike Dunn: 76 strikeouts in 53.1 AA innings. He’s on the 40-man, making things easier. But his walks are way, way too high to bring him up right now.
Wilkin De La Rosa: Another guy on the 40-man. He’s pitched well in 10 AA starts this year, but again the walks are just a bit too high.
Kanekoa Texeira: Has recovered well after a rough start, but again walks too many guys.
Those are the most likely guys for promotion. It’s not a totally promising group of guys, but there could be a few winners in there. Just for fun, I listed them in rank — as in, who has the best chance of making the bullpen. We can keep this one open for thought while we wait for the game to start.