The Forgotten Relievers

"I liked the matchup."
Clarification on Andrew Brackman’s call-up
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

As predictable as it was, the trio of Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, and David Robertson have emerged as Joe Girardi‘s trusted righthanded setup crew over the last few weeks while Boone Logan has taken advantage of Damaso Marte‘s injury to become his go-to-lefty. With the Yankees still in the division race and a few wins away from clinching a playoff spot, he’s leaned heavily on those four plus Mariano Rivera in the late innings of close games. Heck, even Chad Gaudin seems to emerged as that next guy, the one who’s just outside of the regular setup crew that sees plenty of work in what we’ll call “various” situations.

It’s still September though, and the Yanks have a full arsenal of relievers on hand aside from those six mentioned above. They’ve called up three extra arms this month, and remember, they had a 13-man staff before that with Lance Berkman on the disabled list. The call-ups and spare long men haven’t seen much action at all (as you’d expect), so let’s recap where each of those guys stand…

Jon Albaladejo

The Triple-A relief ace hasn’t appeared in a game since Sept. 12th, which is when he worked the final 1.1 innings of a game in which the rest of the team was busy getting shut down by Cliff Lee and the Rangers. Since being recalled at the start of the month he’s appeared in four games, throwing three innings and allowing a pair of hits and a walk while striking out three. Those three baserunners each reached in his last appearance, so the three before that were pretty solid except for some hit by pitches. Albie seems to be the favorite among the extra, sparsely used relievers, probably because he has seniority.

Sergio Mitre

Girardi’s love affair with Mitre always seemed questionable at best, especially since their relationship dated back to their time in Florida and Serg never really did anything on the field with the Yanks to stand out. He last appeared in a game on Sept. 13th, when he gave up the walk-off homer to Reid Brignac, the only batter he faced. Prior to that he had appeared in just one game since August 27th, and two since August 20th, so that’s three total appearances in the last 32 days. Clearly, he’s just a “break glass in case of emergency” long man right now.

Dustin Moseley

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

To be perfectly honest, I had completely forgotten that Moseley existed until Ben mentioned his name last night. The last time he pitched was his start in Texas against Lee, the same date as Albie’s last game, when he pitched admirably for six innings before turning back into Dustin Moseley in the seventh. His only other appearance this month came on Sept. 4th, which is when Girardi brought him in with runners on the corners and two outs against the Blue Jays only to watch him give up a double to Lyle Overbay to tie the game. You remember that, it was the mother of all second guess moves.

Royce Ring

Recalled last Wednesday, Ring has yet to appear in a game for the big league team. The lefty last pitched on Sept. 9th, when he faced two batters in Game Two of Triple-A Scranton’s playoff series with Columbus. He walked one and got the other to ground out. Ring is the definition of a LOOGY, so his appearances-to-innings pitched ratio is well below one this year. At some point Girardi will call on him to get a lefty out, maybe even tonight since Logan has faced multiple batters in each of the last two games.

Romulo Sanchez

Sanchez was promoted over the weekend and Girardi hasn’t called on him yet. Before that he was recovering from an apparently minor elbow injury that had him on the Triple-A disabled list, so he hasn’t pitched in an actual game since August 24th, his only outing in the last 32 days. For a guy that’s wild as it is, I can’t imagine that’s a good thing. Luckily he won’t be seeing any high leverage work anytime soon.

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Javy Vazquez

Oh Javy, how the mighty have fallen. It’s seems like ages ago that the righty posted a 2.75 ERA during an 11 start stretch from mid-May to mid-July, but now he’s so out of favor that he’s nothing more than a highly paid mop-up man. Vazquez hasn’t pitched since starting in Texas on Sept. 10th, when he allowed four runs in five innings of work. He has warmed up a few times since then, but Girardi seems completely disinterested in using him. Given his disappearing fastball and hit-me-breaking ball, can you blame him?

* * *

The Yanks’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to just five, so any combination of Yankee wins and Red Sox losses totaling that number will put the Yanks in the postseason for the 15th time in 16 years. Barring another epic slump, they’ll clinch that spot by the end of the weekend, giving Girardi a chance to rest his regulars and line up his rotation and all that. That’s when Albaladejo and Ring and Mitre will really start to see some action, and chances are Moseley and Vazquez will make some spots starts as they try to line up CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes for the ALDS.

"I liked the matchup."
Clarification on Andrew Brackman’s call-up
  • Mister Delaware

    I imagine I’m not the only one who’d like to see Alba take over that 6th reliever role.

    • Mickey Scheister

      He would have been a better choice than Gaudin last night, I know ole Chad got the win but freak it was scary. Personally I think any combination of Albie and insert anyone not named Gaudin would have been much better than seeing Gaudin and Mitre get tattoo’ed every appearance. Sanchez and Albie > Gaudin and Mitre, IMO comparing their ceilings and stuff.

  • Zanath

    It would be pretty cool to wrap up that playoff spot before the Red Sox series starts. If I’m doing the math correctly, that would require us to sweep and for the Sox to get swept by the O’s. Not exactly an easy thing to accomplish, but it would be very nice indeed.

    • Rob

      Nah, I like the thought of clinching against the Sox.

  • steve (different one)

    The yankees have played about 3 innings of “low leverage” baseball since Labor Day. That may be an exaggeration, but I still can’t recall ever seeing a stretch like this. It’s been insane.

    • Rob

      Not sure I agree. These games are meaningful but it’s hardly been a pennant run. I get your point but the outcomes really haven’t mattered.

      • steve (different one)

        I guess it depends on how much importance you place on winning the division. I said it in the previous thread that I think they are kindof caught in between right now. They are still trying to win the division but not at the expense of resting guys and/or violating their reliever usage “rules”. It’s kindof a funny spot b/c the schedule keeps conspiring by throwing tough opponents at them.

        As others have said, I think once Boston is eliminated the foot will come up even further off the gas…

  • Rob

    I’m surprised you don’t run through it here, but what are the odds each makes the playoff bullpen? If they go with Gaudin is Javy finished?

    • Steve O.

      That’s a story for right before the playoffs. It’s going to be Mo-Chamberlain-Logan-Robertson-Wood and either (Nova/Vasquez/Gaudin/Mitre). I’m betting on Vasquez if he’s not hiding an injury, or injured. If he is, then I’ll guess it’s Nova.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep

        Nova over Javy at this point for me. He has better stuff and has demonstrated he can succeed against a good hitting team.

        • Mickey Scheister

          Albie and Mosely are vastly under used. I understand Sanchez with the injury and just getting the call but Albie was nothin short of pheonmial in AAA. Moseley and Vasquez are better to start an inning than Mitre or Gaudin. Whenever Gaudin goes into a game my blood pressure rises. I’m sure Javy could have got thru more than one batter before givin up a long ball ala Mitre’s walkoff.

          • Dream of Electric Sheep

            Haha, seeing Ramiro Pena and Cervelli in the lineup has a similar effect for me.

  • Dream of Electric Sheep

    Hopefully after clinching a playoff , Joe will unleash some of these guys.
    I would like to see more of Alba . I thought Royce could have been use in a few spots against lefties last night. Johnson, Joyce are precisely the type of guys that Ring was brought in the minor to face against.

    As far as Javy goes, I doubt he will make the playoff roster. The ‘Mighty ‘ he never was ; The mediocre has fallen to deplorable.

    • Guest

      He was mighty last year (legit Cy Young candidate), from May-July this year, and well above average over the course of a long career.

      I agree that he presents little value right now (especially after being out of comission for so long). I don’t really see the point in having him on the playoff roster. I don’t think he’s in a position to contribute anymore.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep

        He was indeed very good last year. A couple things about Javy I find it surprising, His yearly FIP is always better than his ERA except this year. Javy generated 4.8 War despite imploded down the stretch and a poor ERA in 2008. I doubt Guillen thinks he was 4.8 WAR guy in 2008.

        • Guest

          Well, Ozzie Guillen also thinks Nick Swisher is useless. So, I think his opinions can be taken with a grain of salt.

          • Steve H


  • Guest

    Javy’s stuff has fallen of a cliff. No question. But I understand why, from his perspective, he would be very frustrated with what went down this month. He was working very hard with diminished stuff, and his coach showed absolutely no faith in him.

    Bringing in Dustin Moseley after Javy gave up a bloop single. Really? I think that must have been what was going through Javy’s mind. “OK, I think I should have a chance to try to get out of this, but if you are going to take me out, why are you taking me out for that guy? Really? You think he’s better than I am?”

    Of course, from Girardi’s and the Yankees perspective, Javy’s feelings are of no consequence. They have to win games. Period. But I watched a couple of the games where Javy got the quick hook. His stuff is clearly diminished, but it seemed to me he was doing a better job of hitting spots, making fewer mistakes, etc. It seemed like he was, to use a totally scientific term, “grinding” better.

    I’m just not 100% sure that Javy wasn’t about to start making a turn and come out of it, just like he had earlier in the season. Maybe he wouldn’t have at all. But I thought it would be worth trying to find out. Certainly it would be worth trying to find out when the other alternative was Dustin Moseley.

    • Not Tank the Frank

      I would have loved to see Javy come out of his funk. He REALLY seemed good out of the bullpen vs Oakland and his fastball (velocity-wise) looked good in his last start, topping at 91mph. I always thought his performance was SO crucial to this team’s playoff hopes. Now we have to rely on AJ Burnett that much more. I personally thought Javy threw the ball pretty well during his last start but it didn’t seem like Joe had any intention of having Javy work out of a jam.

      It seems like an organizational decision and on the surface it’s the right one. AJ has struggled, but his “stuff” is still there. He still has the ability. Apparently the Yankees don’t have the same belief in Javy and I can’t blame them. But I do think some thought has to go into whether or not Javy will have some value out of the bullpen in the postseason. He really has shined there this season. As an “Aceves” type 3 inning reliever, I believe he could have value should Burnett (predictably) or Hughes falter. I would much rather have him in that spot than Moseley, Gaudin, and yes, even Nova.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep

        Javy always struck me as someone who stuff wise should have been better than he has been results wise . The guy has a track record of melting in big spot . I was hoping for a 4th starter and inning eater type in Javy. He has failed in even doing that.

      • kosmo

        Yes and the fact NY is probably tied hook, line and sinker to Burnett for the next 3 years while Javey walks in a few weeks.

  • Yank the Frank

    As I recall Javy out of the bullpen was not too bad. He may get another shot ou of the pen tonight. One of his many problems may be when he knows he is going to pitch as a starter. The bullpen may be a good spot for him. It’s his only shot to see the post season.

  • Anthony Murillo

    I think Javy could be useful coming out of the bullpen in the post-season. Maybe he’ll relieve a struggling starter in a must win game and because of his efforts the Yankees find a way to win the game and Javy has a positive Yankee moment.

    I can dream…

  • Mister Delaware

    Ignoring names, at this point Nova’s stuff is simply better than Vazquez’s. That’s all that should matter when setting the postseason roster.

    • nick

      Ability to get out hitters is the thing that should decide postseason roster spots.

    • dalelama

      I also think that Nova facing whoever the NL winner is for the first time gives him an advantage over Javy in the WS. Nova seems to do really well until teams have seen him a few times on the other hand Javy doesn’t possess the unfamiliar element.

      • Steve H

        Javy also dominated the NL last year and despite limited stuff pitched very well against the NL this year (though obviously a SSS).

  • Jon in CUO

    I was really hoping for a picture of International Man of Mystery Royce Ring. His legend grows by the day…

  • Tank Foster

    Joe is pedal-to-the-metal until they clinch, I guess. But the question is, will he continue this way until they clinch the division?

    If it’s me, I’m using the callups frequently as soon as the wildcard is sewn up. Because a) I don’t think they’ll do all that poorly with the callups, anyway, and b) the bullpen is good but on rather thin ice, and if he were to somehow lose the effectiveness of any of the regulars (DRob, Joba, Wood, Mo, and Bone), we’re in trouble.

    Last night, why not Javy instead of Chad? I don’t get it.

  • mike c

    the next time bad AJ rears his ugly head you’ll see javy get the chance to pick it up again. If he could be burnett insurance he will be very valuable for the postseason