With word of Chien-Ming Wang’s latest setback coming yesterday, it looks like newcomer Sergio Mitre might be sticking around for a while. I figured we might as well take a second to tell you about the guy, since we’re probably going to be seeing quite a bit of him over the next few weeks. Let’s start with a little background info.
Mitre grew up in San Diego and was drafted out of San Diego City College by the Cubs in the 7th round of the 2001 Draft. He was more of a mid-level prospect than a highly touted of stud, yet only Mark Prior reached the big leagues faster out of that draft haul. Mitre made his Major League debut in a spot start in Atlanta in July 2003, getting rocked for eight runs in under four innings. He made the Cubbies’ Opening Day roster in 2004, ironically filling in for the injured Prior. Sent back down once Prior came of fthe disabled list, Mitre did the up-and-down thing again in 2005.
With the Cubs looking to improve their offense and add a leadoff hitter, they packaged Mitre with prospects Renyel Pinto and Ricky Nolasco in December 2005 to acquire Juan Pierre from the Marlins. He started the 2006 season in Joe Girardi’s Opening Day rotation, but was shut down with shoulder inflammation in mid-May. Mitre came back in August and finished the year pitching effectively out of the bullpen. He started 2007 in the Opening Day rotation, and enjoyed his best stretch of success in the show that year. In his first 17 starts (102 IP) he put up a 2.82 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP while holding opponents to a .665 OPS against.
Unfortunately, Mitre spent three stints on the disabled list that year because of blisters and a hammy issue. He came into camp the next year and faced just three hitters before being shut down with forearm tightness, but it wasn’t until mid-July that he went under the knife and had Tommy John surgery. Mitre didn’t pitch at all in 2008, and was released by the Marlins after the season. The Yankees swooped in and signed him to a split contract worth $1.25M with an option for 2010 in November on Girardi’s recommendation. Two months later he failed a drug test because a trace amount of androstenedione showed up in his system. Mitre took full responsibility and was suspended for 50 games, but was allowed to serve the suspense while rehabbing from TJ.
Mitre’s Yankee career started with him rehabbing from TJ in Extended Spring Training. That was followed by a pit stop with High-A Tampa before a move up to Triple-A Scranton. His last two outings with Scranton have been dynamite (14.2 IP, 11 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13 K, 25-7 GB/FB combined), but more importantly, he’s stretched out and back to throwing 80-100 pitches per start.
Stuff-wise, Mitre’s primarily a sinker-changeup guy, throwing the former 70.3% of the time and the latter 16.0% of the time in his big league career. He fills in the gaps with a curveball and a slider, though his reliance on the curve has waned over the last few years. Girardi says he remembers Mitre’s sinker being high-80’s/low-90’s, and Chad Jennings says he’s been 90-93 with Triple-A Scranton. He generally gets about six or seven miles an hour of separation with the change. As you can imagine, he’s a groundball guy. posting a 2.53 GB/FB ratio in his big league career. For comparison’s sake, the guy he’s replacing in the rotation has career GB/FB rate of 2.70.
It’s fitting that one groundball guy is replacing the other in the rotation, and considering how terrible Wang has been this year, Mitre doesn’t have to do very much to match his production. SG over at RLYW already looked at the numbers, so I’m going to point you over there rather than doing everything myself. Simply put, if he gives the Yanks five or six innings of three or four run ball every five days, I think they’d take that in a heartbeat. Anything else is a bonus. Mitre doesn’t have to be a rotation savior, he just needs to hold down the fort until the team decides how it’s going to address it’s pitching situation.
Photo Credit: The Times-Tribune