Missing in Action: Clay Rapada

Derek Lowe pitching his way onto the postseason roster
Yankees hire Drew Henson as minor league coach
(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The Yankees will play their 162nd game of the season tonight, a game that could either give them the best record in the AL or contribute towards playing a one-game division tie-breaker against the Orioles tomorrow. The bullpen was used heavily in last night’s extra innings win but not to the point where one of the core relievers should be unavailable tonight. Even after throwing 43 pitches in two innings, I’m sure Rafael Soriano will be out there in the ninth if need be.

Joe Girardi‘s crop of trusted relievers is well-defined at this point, and one reliever who appears to be outside the Circle of Trustâ„¢ is second left-hander Clay Rapada. The funky 31-year-old sidewinder has appeared in 69 games this season, the second most of anyone in the bullpen outside of 80-appearance man and primary lefty Boone Logan. Rapada, however, has been kept on ice lately despite ample matchup opportunities. He’s thrown just one pitch (!) since September 23rd, a one-batter appearance on September 27th. One pitch (resulting in a pop-up) in the team’s last ten games.

From late-August through mid-September, Rapada made ten appearances and faced exactly one batter in nine of them. Of a 12 total men (11 lefties) he faced during that time, five reached base (three hits and two walks). One of those three hits was by the lone right-handed batter. Maybe that shook Girardi’s confidence in him. Rapada replaced Ivan Nova in the third inning of the extra innings comeback win over the Athletics two weeks ago, allowing a run while recording four outs. That’s basically been it, he’s made just two appearances since.

Now I get that Logan was excellent earlier in the season and that he’s earned Girardi’s trust in big spots, but Rapada has actually been more effective against same-side hitters this season. Here’s a quick breakdown of their performances against lefties…

Rapada 114 0.185 0.265 0.257 0.241 28.1% 9.7% 44.9%
Logan 133 0.230 0.293 0.372 0.294 31.6% 7.5% 37.5%

Not the biggest of sample sizes, but that’s what you get when you’re dealing with lefty relievers. Both guys have done the job well this year, but Rapada has been a bit more effective despite marginally worse strikeout and walk rates. It’s a luxury to have two quality left-handed relievers, especially late in the season when rosters expand and matching up isn’t much of an issue, and the Yankees are one of just two AL playoff teams with that luxury. The Athletics and their duo of Jerry Blevins and Sean Doolittle are the other.

The final game of the season is tonight, so there’s nothing Girardi can do now to shift some of the left-handed matchup workload from Logan to Rapada. Hopefully Rapada won’t be rusty if he gets the call against the Red Sox, but either way both guys will be on the playoff roster and there’s little reason to favor one over the other. Logan has been a little shaky of late but still solid overall, yet Rapada is a bit of an untapped weapon right now. Giving him a little more responsibility shouldn’t be an idea that is completely off the table.

Derek Lowe pitching his way onto the postseason roster
Yankees hire Drew Henson as minor league coach
  • MannyGeee

    I wouldnt say i’ve been “missing” Clay Rapada, Bob…

    /Office Space’d

  • Darren

    Is it possible he’s injured, or just sore/dead armed and that Girardi doesn’t want to let that information out?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Of course.

  • Eddard reboot v.1.0

    I don’t see him getting in many postseason games unless the starter flames out early. If there’s a situation with a LHB in the 6th or 7th, Boone will be brought in. In the 8th and 9th they won’t play matchups. Phelps, Joba and Boone are your 6th-7th inning relievers and that’s that.

    • Bob Buttons the Cat

      Rangers: Hamilton, Murphy, Moreland
      Tigers: Fielder, Avila, Boesch, Berry, Dirks
      As: Reddick, Moss, Smith, Drew
      Os: Davis, Markakis, McLouth, Thome

      And that’s just the AL.
      And we all know Joe loves to play the platoon advantage game.

      • RetroRob

        Rapada’s strength should be in getting lefties out. My issue with Rapada was Joe at times was using him in non-LOOGY situations. Having him come in to get the tough lefty out makes sense. Not sure why he’s gone to not using him at all, unless as noted above there is an injury/dead arm issue.

  • Nathan

    Let’s just hope no balls get hit to him and he has to attempt to throw to a base.

  • Anthony

    I’ve commented before saying that I had a hunch Rapada was a better LOOGY than Logan, but I had absolutely no evidence to support that. Great article Mike, thanks!

  • Yank The Frank

    I think because Rapada looks like a zombie he gets Joe nervous.

    • MannyGeee

      meanwhile…. Chavez is unaffected.


  • Eddard reboot v.1.0

    Oakland falling apart, 5-1 Texas. So much for Texas getting ousted in the WC game.

    • MannyGeee

      Here’s to hoping the scrappy upstart on the east coast suffers a similar fate tonight.

    • DC

      5-3 with tying runs on base isn’t exactly falling apart.

      • Eddard reboot v.1.0

        And now it’s 5-5, LOL! They just don’t die.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          We have an off-topic thread for this.

          • ArchStanton

            Mike, I’ve been looking for that thread and the only Open Thread is from Sunday- so what am I missing? Might want to help us slower people out. :)

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa


              It’s in the nav bar under the street sign in the banner at all times. Should probably post a fresh one soon.

              • ArchStanton

                As my mom would say, if it was a snake it would’ve bit me. Thanks!

        • MannyGeee

          this is a goddam exciting game. please MO let the Yankees Sox game tonight be an unexciting Yankees blowout.

  • Vince

    Someone slip these stats into Girardi’s binder. I’m so sick of seeing Logan facing lefties in critical spots when Rapada is actually the better option.

  • RBC

    I love how “circle of trust” has a trademark :)

  • Anthony

    Oakland came back!! 5-5!!

    • Athenian

      hamilton just pulled a Luis Castillo…how freakin cool is that!!!!!!!!!

      • Anthony

        I know. This is insane!!! Talk about choking – the Rangers are about to be sent to the wildcard. At

  • Tom

    The only non-injury I can think of with Rapada, is that in Sept if he is brought in for a lefty the opposing manager should be pretty easily able to go to a righty. (So Logan might be a better overall option)

    Either that or he was in the car when McGehee ran over Giradi’s dog.

    • jjyank

      Both completely viable scenarios.

  • mrdbag

    This Is why I think the Yankees should get beane he Is unafraid to play rookies and he knows how to find prospects parker , griffin, milone, redduck

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