What Went Right: Cody Eppley & Clay Rapada

Davidoff: Yankees have "significant interest" in re-signing Ibanez
Stark: Yankees "very confident" they will re-sign Kuroda

If there’s one thing the Yankees do consistently well, it’s mine the scrap heap for useful players. They hit the jackpot with Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Eric Chavez, et al a year ago, but in 2012 the contributions were a little more subtle. The Bombers added a pair of funky, side-winding relievers during Spring Training, both of whom would up spending the majority of the season on the active roster and contributing more than expected.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Cody Eppley
The Yankees claimed Eppley off waivers from the Rangers in early-April, and pretty much the only reason why fans may have recognized his name was because he served up this grand slam to Frankie Cervelli a year ago. The 27-year-old was a nondescript relief prospect, but New York needed to replenish depth after dealing George Kontos for Chris Stewart. It was a typical end-of-camp transaction.

Eppley started the year in Triple-A and was recalled for the first time after Brett Gardner was placed on the DL with his elbow injury. That move was temporary — 13-man pitching staffs are far from ideal, but the Yankees needed bullpen help at the time — as he was sent down roughly a week later. Eppley was recalled for good in early-May, after Mariano Rivera blew out his knee. It was hardly the way the Yankees wanted to give the low-slot right-hander a chance, but that’s the way the cookie crumbled.

After being used primarily as a low-leverage arm in blowout situations, Eppley eventually climbed the bullpen totem pole and saw his fair share of important innings during the summer. He threw 46 innings across 59 appearances for New York this year, missing more bats than I expected (6.26 K/9 and 16.5%) while generating a ton of ground balls (60.3%). As you’d expect given his arm slot, Eppley was death on righties, holding them to a .262 wOBA with a 61.9% ground ball rate.

Although he was left off the ALDS roster, Eppley took Eduardo Nunez‘s ALCS roster spot (Nunez was later re-added when Derek Jeter got hurt) and threw 3.2 scoreless innings against the Tigers while appearing in all four games. He also had a 27-appearance (20.1 innings) stretch from mid-May through mid-July in which he pitched to a 1.77 ERA (3.34 FIP). By no means did Eppley save the bullpen or anything like that, but he produced more than expected and helped the Yankees a bunch after Rivera went down.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Clay Rapada
The Yankees have wasted a ton of money in their never-ending pursuit of left-handed relief, yet they stumbled across a solid southpaw option early in Spring Training. The Orioles had released the 31-year-old Rapada right before the start of camp and that’s when the Bombers pounced, inking him to a minor league contract. He pitched well during the Grapefruit League schedule and won the second lefty reliever job after Cesar Cabral fractured his elbow.

Rapada stayed on the big league roster all season, appearing in 70 games but throwing only 38.1 innings in true LOOGY form. He pitched to a 2.82 ERA (3.20 FIP) overall, but we can’t judge him by his overall results. Rapada was on the roster for one reason and one reason only, and that was to neutralize the other club’s left-handed hitters. He excelled in that role, holding same-side hitters to a .238 wOBA with a 28.7% strikeout rate and a 44.9% strikeout rate thanks to his funky side-arm delivery. Only five lefty relievers were more effective against same-side hitters in terms of wOBA against this year (min. 100 lefties faced).

Rapada retired five of six lefties faced in the postseason, with a walk to Prince Fielder being the lone exception. He set a new (and ultimately irrelevant) franchise record this year by facing exactly one batter in eight consecutive appearances, breaking Mike Myers’ old record of seven straight. After all the money given to Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano, it was Rapada who gave the Yankees the type of reliable left-handed relief they’ve been searching for, and he did it while earning close to the league minimum.

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Davidoff: Yankees have "significant interest" in re-signing Ibanez
Stark: Yankees "very confident" they will re-sign Kuroda
  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’ve probably exhausted this joke to death, but we’ve clearly got some new readership: petition MLB to allow the Yankees to swap out Eppley and Rapada as many times as they wish throughout a game and you’ve got one hell of a bullpen.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      Teach them to play LF or 1B and you could just keep switching them in and out, right?

      • the Other Steve S.

        I think it was Sam McDowell back in the day that they used to switch to 2B for an occasional batter and back to the mound. Put a little fun in the game.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Did you just solve the RF problem? I think you did.

  • The Real Eddard

    There hasn’t been a better 1-2 punch since Rosewood and Taggart. Eppley eats up innings and fools hitters with his sidewinder delivery. Rapada was a better LOOGY than Logan. These two are why we shouldn’t spend another $15 million for a reliever. They’re a dime a dozen except for Mo who is one of a kind. We’ve got Joba, DRob and Logan to set up and these two to pitch in the middle innings.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    If they could combine these two guys into one body, you’d have one hell of a pitcher (where’s Pat Venditte).

    It’s a no brainer to bring Rapada back as LOOGY but I’d prefer to have a righty who can get lefties out a little better than Eppley. Not a fan of ROOGYs though he did a decent job last year.

  • RetroRob

    I’ve been a fan of bringing in Rapada after I first saw him pitch a couple years back. He’s as LOOGY as a LOOGY can be, and he’s cheap. His other value, perhaps his greatest value, is by being on the roster it decreases the chances of the Yankees going out and spending millions on the next Marte or Feliciano.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    I really think Eppley wasn’t a good decision. At one point late in the season I was watching a game in which he pitched so poorly that my dad decided he needed to Google, “Why is Cody Eppley horrible?”

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Numbers be damned, eh?

      At no point would I ever think that a guy plucked off of waivers at the very last minute before the season started, who pitched as many innings in the MLB bullpen, wasn’t a good decision.

      Pedro Feliciano wasn’t a good decision. Cody Eppley was.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      Eppley wasn’t horrible by any means, he just shouldn’t be used against lefties . If he got pounded, I’ll bet it was because Girardi left him in during a blowout one way or another.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        We also need to consider how we got him and what we got out of him. Like Mike said, he’s no worldbeater, but he gave the team a hell of a lot more than anyone was expecting.

  • Jersey Joe

    Could Eppley be useful as trade bait? Maybe for an OF/DH like Lucas Duda or maybe Will Venable? Someone to plug the hole in right field.

    God, I wish we resigned Swisher and let Granderson go. I feel like this platoon bat with Granderson is limiting options.

  • stuart a

    If RUpert Murdoch ever bought the Yankees I would cease to be a fan of the team I have rooted for passionately for a long long time.

    Rupert Murdoch is poison and if he buys more then 49% of YES but the Yanks also, I am out of there forever….

    • Get Phelps Up

      Why would Rupert Murdoch buying the Yankees make you stop being a Mets fan?

      • JAG

        IETC

  • Chris

    I swear it seemed like these guys were in every single game played during the regular season.