The bullpen is currently bare

Phil Hughes and the need to pitch downhill
Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 Prospects
Steak goes on the Meat Tray, and the Meat Tray should probably stay in the bullpen. (From Flickr user dulouz cats via Creative Commons license.)

The biggest complaint last night was not about Phil Hughes‘s shaky first. It wasn’t about his inability to put away batters, nor his lack of a clean inning. In fact, it had little to do with Hughes at all. Running through the comments on the game recap and on other social outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, the biggest complaint was the mere presence of Sergio Mitre. That has something to do with Hughes, since he only pitched five innings and forced the bullpen to enter the game early. But everyone seems willing to overlook that and heap the blame on Mitre, whose disastrous inning proved to be the difference* in last night’s game.

If you don’t believe in the fallacy of the predetermined outcome, that is.

Having Mitre in the game was surely a problem, but given the situation and roster composition it’s hard to argue with his presence. Take a gander at the 40-man roster and see if there are any better alternatives. The only pitchers who aren’t in the majors have something that makes them something of a worse choice than Mitre. They have:

Dellin Betances: It’s pretty clear why he’s not in the MLB bullpen.

Andrew Brackman: He hasn’t transitioned well to the AAA bullpen, so AA is a greater possibility than the majors.

Steve Garrison: He’s currently getting shellacked at AA. He throws with his left arm, so if the Yanks thought he could help in the pen he likely would have been up at some point during this big bullpen shuffle. An early season injury has cost him, and his last start skews his numbers a bit.

Brian Gordon: He certainly could be helping the Yanks out of the bullpen right now, but it’s understandable why they have him working as a starter in the minors. We’ve already seen this season how important pitching depth can be.

Ivan Nova: Same deal as Gordon. He’d probably work very well in the bullpen, when he could focus on his fastball and curveball. But his best starts this year have come when he mixes all four of his pitches, so it’s probably best at this point to have him continue doing that in the minors. They’ll need him for a start sooner or later, anyway.

Pants Lendleton: He’s only two years younger than Mitre, and I have a hard time making a case that he’s as good.

Ryan Pope: Dude just got demoted to AA from AAA, so he’s far removed from the issue at this point.

Kevin Whelan: He’s on the seven-day disabled list in AAA.

Perhaps at a point later in the season we’d see Nova or Gordon taking Mitre’s spot. But for now, with nearly three months of baseball left to play, preserving starting pitching depth takes a slight precedence over the bullpen. That’s probably the biggest reason why Mitre is on the roster right now.

Regarding the complaints that he should not have been the one to enter the game, I find it hard to disagree. The Yankees had other options at that point, and a 3-0 lead is far from insurmountable, especially with the A lineup. Girardi could have gone to Cory Wade, who didn’t pitch in Tuesday’s game, or Hector Noesi, who hasn’t pitched since Sunday (and threw just two pitches in that game). Maybe Girardi didn’t want to use Wade, since Cleveland hit him around on Monday. I don’t quite buy that, but it’s not enough to raise a stink. But when it’s combined with the non-use of Noesi — he’s pitched just 6.2 innings since mopping up for Freddy Garcia against Boston in early June — it becomes an issue. There is little reason to trust Mitre over Nova, especially in a game that the Yanks can still salvage.

The hand wringing is likely for naught, as the Indians did have a strong hold on the game. Even if Noesi or Wade had entered the game in the eighth and held the Indians scoreless, the Yanks would have faced Chris Perez to open the ninth. He’s been good this season, but has a propensity to walk guys and doesn’t strikeout many (at least this year). But he shut down the Yanks immediately upon entering the game, and I imagine, since he’s done it most of the season, that he would have held down the top of the order at the start. And so that three-run rally might not have even gotten off the ground if Mitre didn’t allow those two runs in the eighth.

For the time being Sergio Mitre is the unfortunate product of the Yankees bullpen situation. Three of the seven guys they’d counted on to start the season are on the 60-day DL, and two aren’t coming back this season. That means the Yanks have some mixing and matching to do, and Mitre gives them just one more option. He’ll be gone soon enough, as the Yankees shop at the deadline and perhaps get Rafael Soriano back. We can gripe in the interim, and rightfully so. But until the Yankees make an acquisition or get back a pitcher from the DL, he’s going to be sitting in the bullpen and sometimes agitating us with his presence.

Phil Hughes and the need to pitch downhill
Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 Prospects
  • Hester Prynne

    We need an effective Soriano back. And Noesi needs to be used more. If he isn’t going to be used in the 7th or in long relief like he could have been used yesterday then why is he on the roster? He had one bad outing vs the Reds.

    • Preston

      This. Many talent evaluators ranked Noesi as our third best pitching prospect behind Banuelos and Betances. So if Girardi refuses to trust him with a heavier workload in the majors send him back to AAA and let him develop as a starter.

  • SDM

    Isn’t it obvious? Mitre is blackmailing Girardi and Cash, and until they confess there sin/crime to the public and break the chain, Sergio will always be around.

    • The Captain

      Mitre stole Joe’s bullpen binder and is currently holding it hostage.

      I’m sure he and Joe are working out some deal related to the number of innings he has to pitch before he’ll give the binder back.

      • SDM

        doesnt explain how he boomeranged back to NY? What does he have on Cash?

        • Cris Pengiuci

          Pictures ….

  • CMP

    Go get K-Rod.

    How much could he cost given the $6 million left for this year, the $3 million buyout at the end of the season and the fact that he can only be used as a set up man?

  • Yank The Frank

    Mitre should only be used when we are either up 10 runs or down 10 runs.

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      Only when we’re down by 10. If we use him up by 10 Mo will have to get up.

      • Yank The Frank

        Sad but true.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    The “Girardi Circle of Trust®” is like the mob, once you’re in, you never get out.

  • SRB

    Maybe w/ fringe players at the back end of the bullpen we really need to go back to the 60s where relievers were not good enough starters- I know it’s not the playoffs yet (you still have to get in) but I’d have Gordan and Pendleton in the pen ahead of Mitre

  • CS Yankee

    Noesi has to be the 6th inning guy yesterday as his role was defined as “long relief”, meaning 40-60 pitches.

    Boone was bad, Mitre was a disaster. No one was warming when Boone hit bone (again) with his first pitch. No one was warming when Meat was breathing hard and unable to throw a 87 FB into the glove.

    I want new problems tomorrow. I’m okay with them “wasting” Noesi in the long relief role but if they didn’t use him yesterday, they have no reason to keep him up. Mitre should be the mop only & Logan is making everyone hate on LOOGY’s. Please, move on to new problems and remove these Farnsworth’s from the roster.

  • MannyGeee

    Call it what you want to call it, Mitre should not have seen action last night. Noesi should have pitched those innings.

    oh yeah, Logan blows too…

  • YankeesJunkie

    This would not be such a big deal if the bullpen was used properly. Right now, the biggest market inefficiency is the use of the pen. No team needs 7 let alone 8 relievers on a roster at any time except for extreme circumstances. Seeing guys like Robertson and Noesi going out for an inning at time is disgusting and just gives more innings to guys like Logan and Mitre. Robertson, Noesi, Wade, and Ayala should be pitching two innings at a time instead of 1 or getting pulled out for Logan to face a single lefty. I understand that by doing this you limit the number of appearances, but you increase the number of innings. If a starter only goes six I would much rather use Robertson for two innings and have him out for the next day than trying to get by the seventh by using 2 or 3 relievers. Even when Soriano gets back he should be used anywhere from three to seven outs to get the ball to Mariano. This whole inning by inning thing is inefficiency that caught on from idiocy of LaRussa.

  • first time lawng time

    Hey, Mitre got a save last year. Maybe that’s why Joe insists on usin him.

  • hogsmog

    If George were still alive, he would have the managerial acumen to realize that Manny Banuelos’ stuff plays up in the pen better than as a starter, and promote him to the big league club post haste. It’s a shame that we’ve let wet noodles like Ca$hman and Girardi ruin this team.

    • YankeesJunkie

      The thought makes me want to vomit.

      • Mike Axisa

        I think he’s joking. The use of cross-memes is impressive.

        • YankeesJunkie

          I meant the thought alone I knew it sarcasm.

  • Cuso

    So, to clarify, I am well within my rights to bitch & gripe about the presence & continued use of Mitre?

    Good by me.

  • the Other Steve S.

    What, Gaudin not available?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      In due time…

  • Joel Grey from Mars

    Bullpens are like women…sometimes they are hot and they get the job done…and sometimes they are just volatile as hell and they scare the crap out of you!

    • CMP

      and sometimes (like in the case of Mitre) they’re totally useless and need to be kicked out the door.

      • Smallz


    • Cris Pengiuci


  • Mark

    When did we get Mitre back?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      The better question is why. And another good question is why is he used when the score differential is only 2?

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      Mark..where the hell have you been? Living under a rock? Getting Mitre back has been the biggest news in Gotham.

      Word on the street is that he just showed up and started pitching.

    • Yank The Frank

      He did a Costanza and snuck on the bus when the Yanks were playing the Brewers in IL. No one noticed.

      • Smallz

        HAHAHAHAH yes.

  • Brian

    Which begs the question….why is Brackman, Lendleton, Garrison and Pope still on the 40 man roster. DFA 2 of them and bring up Kontos and Flores.

    • http://RAB Leo in Houston

      You babbies would be crying in one inning if Kontos came up…grass always greener.. Kontos gave up 2 HR’s and a bunch of runs in AAA last night. And if you think Cash will DFA Brackman. Pendleton and Pope, well whats the use. Get a clue.

  • Smallz

    Its not the fact that Mitre is on the roster. I get that, hes a useful guy to eat up innings. It just seemed like Girardi mailed that one in for the Indians. He used his pen like he was down by 6 or 7 runs. 3 runs is not alot for a lineup like the Yankees have. I know I know John Sterling, “you cant predict baseball!” it was just totally the wrong move to have Mitre in that close of a game.

  • Jorge

    I began calling Mitre “The White Flag” last night since the mere sight of him usually indicates surrender.

    My feeling is that Girardi has seen something in Mitre since his days with the Marlins, and the hope has been that he turns into the type of sinkerball/GB pitcher that can get consistent outs. It hasn’t happened, and Sergio Mitre, Act II is beginning to look a lot like Chad Gaudin, Act II in that, while they didn’t look like much to begin with, they look like even less the second time around. We can safely begin to assume that Chien Ming-Mitre is not right around the corner.

    The only attachment I have to Pants Lendleton is his having the best RAB-created nickname ever. To lose that would be heartbreaking. I agree that the best potential bullpen options to shore up the back of the bullpen are guys not on the 40-man right now.

  • Frank is Tanked

    You know who would really look good in this bullpen? The guys they shipped out for nothing in return…Clippard, Melancon, Dunn.

    • Jorge

      You’re on a roll today, I must say.

      So what we see of Phil Hughes is some sort of indicative sample, but Tyler Clippard and Mark Melancon never being able to find home plate when they were here was a sign of great things to come. Never mind the fact that Lance Berkman was a cog that almost got this team to the World Series last year.

      • Frank is Tanked

        How many innings did they each get? How many has Hughes gotten?

        Prance Blerkman’s two hits in the ALDS equals six years of team control for a closer-type reliever? Brian Cashman has a job for you.

  • 42yankee

    I cannot believe that the author thinks that Mitre is a decent choice for the bull-pen. The only reason is that Dumbo Giardi liked him at the Marlins. Hey author, if you believe that there is no in the minors as good as Mitre then you need to lay-off the joy juice or wacky. Mitre stinks, and the Brewers are still laughing at the Yanks for taking him off their hands.