Even with no standouts, the revolving door has been an effective last man in the bullpen

Pinder. (Presswire)
Pinder. (Presswire)

As you know, the Yankees have had a revolving door in their bullpen all season, using the last reliever spot or two — sometimes more, they’ve had an eight-man bullpen at times — to shuttle in fresh arms as necessary. Every team does it to some extent, but the Yankees have done it to the extreme this year, and it’s all by design. The plan coming into the season was to use the Triple-A and Double-A depth to constantly bolster the bullpen.

“(We had) from Double-A on up a lot of really interesting power arms from the left and right side that were under control, with options,” said Brian Cashman to Joe Lemire recently. “We talked all winter about where we could be in a situation where we’re really taking a guy every ten days. Call a guy up, max him out, send him back out and get a new guy up. It’s just kind of a revolving door.”

According to Lemire, the Yankees had made 106 transactions — that’s call-ups, send-downs, and designate for assignments — heading into last Tuesday’s game, easily the most in baseball. The other 29 clubs were averaged 67 such transactions this year. That’s kinda crazy, but it was the plan all along. The depth is there, might as well use it, right? No sense in going short-handed for a few days when you have capable pitchers a phone call away.

I count a dozen pitchers who have been on the bullpen shuttle this season, not including Chris Capuano, who always seems to find his way back onto the roster even though the Yankees keep trying to stick him in their Triple-A rotation. Of those 12 pitchers, eight have been called up multiple times. Here are how those eight relievers with multiple call-ups and send-downs have fared this season:

Caleb Cotham 3.2 9.82 7.49 25.0% 0.0% 50.0% 4.91
Nick Goody 3.1 5.40 4.02 20.0% 13.3% 66.7% 0.00
Chris Martin 16.0 5.63 2.81 20.3% 4.1% 54.5% 0.56
Bryan Mitchell 17.2 2.55 3.18 20.3% 6.8% 49.1% 0.51
Diego Moreno 10.1 5.23 4.29 17.8% 6.7% 40.6% 0.87
Branden Pinder 23.1 2.70 5.01 19.0% 10.0% 30.4% 1.54
Jose Ramirez 3.0 15.00 6.79 10.0% 20.0% 38.5% 0.00
Nick Rumbelow 9.2 2.79 3.54 22.5% 7.5% 39.3% 0.93
TOTAL 87.0 4.34 3.91 19.6% 7.7% 42.2% 1.03
3.63 3.74 22.1% 8.5% 45.5% 0.90

Just to be clear, this includes Mitchell’s time as a reliever only. Overall, the eight up-and-down relievers have been below-average at pretty much everything other than limiting walks this year. You can play with the numbers if you want — remove Ramirez because he’s no longer with the organization and it’s a 3.83 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 84 innings, for example — but I don’t see the point in that.

Overall, this group of eight pitchers have collectively performed worse than the league average reliever. They aren’t replacing the league average reliever, however. They’re the last reliever in the bullpen, and the last reliever in the bullpen is generally very bad. The Blue Jays, for example, have gotten a 6.80 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 41.2 innings out of Todd Redmond, Scott Copeland, and Jeff Francis this year. The Royals and Pirates have used Joe Blanton. See what I mean?

By last reliever in the bullpen standards, the revolving door has been serviceable this year. Not great — out of all these guys, the only one who has really stood out and made you think he could an impact pitcher long-term is Mitchell, who is a starter by trade — but serviceable. The advantage is always having a fresh reliever. That’s the whole point of shuttling them in and out, to make sure Joe Girardi always has a fresh arm available.

How do you value something like that? I’m not sure we can put a number on it. Have a fresh “last guy in the bullpen” every night ensures the regular relievers won’t have to pick up any mop-up innings throughout the year, which can happen from time-to-time. Sometimes these guys get exposed — remember Pinder against the heart of the Blue Jays order in extra innings a few weeks ago? — but that happens with every mop-up man.

All things considered, the revolving bullpen door has succeeded at giving Girardi a fresh bullpen arm while providing the team collectively competent innings. These guys haven’t been great by any means — they’ve had their moments, but so does everyone — but the Yankees haven’t needed them to be. Soaking up innings in low-leverage spots is a thankless job. Rather than have one or two guys do it, the Yankees have used eight.

Bailey, Refsnyder, Romine among first wave of September call-ups

Bailey. (MLB.com)
Bailey. (MLB.com)

11:45am ET: To clear the three 40-man roster spots, the Yankees transferred Domingo German to the 60-day DL and designated both Tyler Austin and Cole Figueroa for assignment, the team announced. German, who is out following Tommy John surgery, was technically called up to MLB for the first time and placed on the DL. He’ll get big league pay for a month. Good for him. Austin has had a poor year (92 wRC+) and the Yankees have a ton of upper level outfield depth. That made him expendable.

9:30am ET: Following last night’s loss, the Yankees announced their first wave of September call-ups, and the list runs eight players deep. They wasted no time beefing up the roster. The eight players: catcher Austin Romine, infielder Rob Refsnyder, outfielder Rico Noel, utility men Dustin Ackley and Jose Pirela, righties Andrew Bailey and Caleb Cotham, and lefty James Pazos. They’ll all be active tonight.

Technically, Ackley is being activated off the 15-day DL. He’s missed the last month or so with a back problem and had been rehabbing with Triple-A Scranton the last few days. Everyone else was simply called up. Refsnyder, Pirela, and Cotham were all up earlier this year while both Bailey and Romine have been up in previous years. Noel and Pazos are big leaguers for the first time.

Bailey, 31, has not pitched in MLB since July 2013 due to a biceps injury and shoulder capsule surgery. The Yankees signed him prior to last season knowing he was unlikely to pitch, rehabbed him, brought him back this year, and will now hopefully be rewarded for their patience. Bailey had a 1.80 ERA (2.87 FIP) with good strikeout (29.8%) and walk (7.8 BB%) numbers in 35 minor league innings this year.

It’ll be interesting to see how Joe Girardi uses Bailey this month. He’s not the typical September call-up fodder — this a former All-Star, remember. His minor league performance was good and I’m sure the team’s reports on his stuff were good too, otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten called up. Will Bailey step right in and assume a late-inning role or be eased back into things? We’ll see. He’ll remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2016, by the way.

Pazos, 24, was the team’s 13th round pick in the 2012 draft. He would have been Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, so the Yankees are getting a head start on things by adding him to the 40-man roster. Pazos had a 1.27 ERA (2.39 FIP) with a good strikeout rate (28.8%) and a perhaps too high walk rate (8.8%) in 42.2 minor league innings this year.

The southpaw is a hard-thrower — PitchFX data from the 2013 Arizona Fall League says Pazos averaged 94.3 mph and topped out at 96.4 mph — with a good slider, so he’s an actual prospect. A bullpen prospect, but a prospect nonetheless. Pazos has a little funk in his delivery too. Here’s some video:

With Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson, and Chasen Shreve ahead of Pazos on the left-handed reliever depth chart, I expect Pazos to work in super low-leverage spots this months. This is just to get his feet wet at the big league level so he can prepare to ride the bullpen shuttle next season. Phil Coke turned a 2008 September call-up into a 2009 MLB roster spot. Pazos will try to do the same.

The 26-year-old Noel will be the team’s pinch-running specialist down the stretch. Maybe he’ll play some late-inning defense too, but nothing more. He is the 2015 version of 2009 Freddy Guzman. Pirela, Cotham, Romine, Ackley, and Refsnyder are all spare parts. Romine will be the barely used third catcher and Cotham will soak up garbage time innings. I suppose Pirela and/or Refsnyder could take second base platoon at-bats away from Brendan Ryan.

The eight call-ups require the Yankees to clear three 40-man roster spots. Refsnyder, Ackley, Pirela, and Cotham are all already on the 40-man, plus the team has one open spot after designating Chris Capuano for assignment the other day. The Capuano spot will go to one of Noel, Bailey, Romine, or Pazos. The Yankees need to clear 40-man spots for the other three. Those moves will be announced later today.

The fact Slade Heathcott, Chris Martin, and Cole Figueroa were not called up from Triple-A Scranton suggests they may be on the chopping block. Tyler Austin was not called up from Double-A Trenton, though that wasn’t surprising. Jacob Lindgren (elbow) and Domingo German (elbow) could be called up and placed on the 60-day DL, which would clear 40-man spots but also allow them to accrue service time.

Either way, the Yankees suddenly have a nine-man bench — well, eight-man bench with Mark Teixeira sidelined — and a ten-man bullpen. It’ll become a 12-man bullpen in a few days when Nick Goody and Nick Rumbelow are recalled. (They were sent down last week and can not be brought back for ten days.) The Yankees wasted no time making their call-ups. The regulars are still going to play everyday because the team is in a division race, but the extra bodies have arrived.

Blown opportunities send Yankees to 4-3 loss to Red Sox

I wouldn’t say that was the worst loss of the season, but it was definitely the most frustrating. The Yankees had a ton of opportunities — they loaded the bases in four different innings! — but never did get the big hit, resulting in a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox in Monday night’s series opener.

(Darren McCollester/Getty)
(Darren McCollester/Getty)

Right Where The Red Sox Want Them
Want to hear a fun stat? The Yankees went 4-for-14 (.286) with runners in scoring position. That’s pretty good, all things considered. The league average is .257 with runners in scoring position. Want to hear a not fun stat? One of those four hits with runners in scoring position actually scored a run. One! That was Didi Gregorius‘ one-run single in the fourth. That’s it.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the first, fourth, fifth and ninth innings. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the first and fourth too. They scored a run in the first on Carlos Beltran‘s sacrifice fly, but Brian McCann and Chase Headley couldn’t do more damage. They scored a run in the fourth on Didi’s single, but Brendan Ryan hit a chopper back to the pitcher and the out was made at home, then Jacoby Ellsbury lined into a double play.

Now, the double play was not a traditional “line it at an infielder who steps on the base” thing. Ellsbury hit a rocket to left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and for some reason Greg Bird tagged up at third and tried to score. That was a really bad decision by third base coach Joe Espada. I mean really bad. For starters, Bird is slow. That’s kinda obvious. Also, the line drive was right at Bradley in shallow left, and Bradley has a cannon. Bird was out by a mile. Awful decision.

The ninth inning bases loaded situation was a different animal. Red Sox closer Jean Machi did everything in his power to give the Yankees the game, including throwing more balls (18) than strikes (15). Stephen Drew started the inning with a single, then Alex Rodriguez walked to put the tying run on base. Beltran struck out looking on some questionable calls …

Carlos Beltran Jean Machi

… but Machi walked Brian McCann to load the bases with one out, so the Yankees were still in good shape. Machi then walked Headley to force in a run. Woo! It was all set up for Bird to be the hero — or at least tie the game — but instead he struck out looking after hacking at strike two off the plate. Bird struck out with the bases loaded in the fifth as well.

Gregorius, who was 4-for-4 on the night up to that point, had a chance to tie the game, but he instead flew out to the warning track to end the game. I thought that was the big one. Didi put a great swing on the pitch and it looked like trouble off the bat. It would have been a grand slam in Yankee Stadium — in fact, ESPN Stats & Info says it would have been a homer in 24 of the 30 parks — but it wasn’t at Fenway Park. Man, that stunk. Machi put the game on a platter for Yankees, but they didn’t take advantage.

All told, the Yankees left 14 (!) runners on base in this game. That’s a new season high for a nine-inning game. They had a base-runner in every inning but the third and had at least two base-runners in every inning but the second, third, and seventh. The Yankees put 18 runners on base and managed to score three runs. Three. Gross.

(Darren McCollester/Getty)
(Darren McCollester/Getty)

Quality Start In The Box Score
Another bend but only kinda sorta break outing for Ivan Nova, who allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings. One of those hits was a two-run home run by Mookie Betts, another a solo shot by David Ortiz. The Ortiz homer came on a pretty good pitch down-and-away that Ortiz muscled over the Green Monster. What can you do? The Betts homer was a terrible pitch. Fastball up in the zone screaming “hit me!”

Seven of 15 Red Sox batters reached base against Nova at one point spanning the third through sixth innings, so he was in trouble most of the night. Some line drives found gloves and the BoSox made some bad base-running decisions — Ortiz was thrown out trying to go to third on a wild pitch to end the sixth — which helped Nova limit the damage. You could do worse than having Nova as your fifth best starter, but the Yankees can’t really afford any mediocre starts these days.

The bullpen was asked to get six outs in this game, though it felt like more. Adam Warren struck out Ryan Hanigan, allowed a double to Bradley and then a single to Betts in the seventh, ending his night. Chasen Shreve came in, got the weak grounder he needed from Pablo Sandoval, but Bird muffed it at first base and had to settle for one out. I’m not sure it would have been a 3-6-3 double play, but it definitely should have been one of those “look the runner back to third, take the out at first” plays. Bird couldn’t even do that and Boston scored their fourth run.

Shreve ended up walking Xander Bogaerts and Ortiz after the Sandoval grounder — Shreve’s walked ten of the last 50 batters he’s faced (20%!), which ain’t good at all — before getting Travis Shaw to line out to left, ending the seventh inning. He then tossed a 1-2-3 eighth. The Yankees had 18 base-runners and only scored three runs. The Red Sox had 12 base-runners in eight offensive innings and scored four runs. Neither offense was on point Monday.

(Darren McCollester/Getty)
(Darren McCollester/Getty)

Boy, Bird had an awful game, which is pretty amazing considering he had a hit. He went 1-for-5 at the plate, struck out twice with the bases loaded, got thrown out at the plate, and bobbled Sandoval’s grounder to allow that all-important fourth run to score. The Yankees really miss Mark Teixeira, both at the plate and in the field.

Gregorius went 4-for-5. It was his third career four-hit game, all of which have come this season. He did it this past Friday against the Braves and in that 21-5 massacre in Texas a few weeks back. McCann went 0-for-2 but drew three walks. The Yankees walked eight times as a team. The offense has 32 walks and 27 strikeouts over the last four games.

Ellsbury went 0-for-4, hit four balls hard, and had nothing to show for it. He batted with runners on the corners with one out in the eighth, hit a hot shot grounder Junichi Tazawa snagged — one of those “he didn’t catch it, it caught him” plays — and turned into an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play. Rough.

Every starter reached base at least once except Ryan. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Brett Gardner in the eighth inning, who singled. So every lineup spot reached base at least once. Too bad that big hit never came.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, as well as the updated standings and postseason odds. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Red Sox will play game two of this series Tuesday night, when both teams will have a bunch of extra players on hand thanks to September call-ups. Michael Pineda and Rick Porcello will be the pitching matchup.

DotF: September call-up candidates have big games in Scranton’s win

Got some notes to pass along:

  • Brian Cashman told Dan Barbarisi that C Gary Sanchez (hamstring) will not be part of the first wave of September call-ups tomorrow. He’s still hurting. That makes C Austin Romine the odds on favorite to be the third catcher down the stretch, at least until Sanchez gets healthy.
  • SS Jorge Mateo was placed on the High-A Tampa DL retroactive to Saturday, reports Nick Flammia. Mateo recently suffered some kind of leg injury running the bases. Tampa’s season ends Sunday and they’re not going to the playoffs, so Mateo’s season may be over.
  • OF Michael O’Neill and OF Trey Amburgey were named the Offensive Players of the Week in the High-A Florida State League and Short Season NY-Penn League, respectively. Also, LHP Jordan Montgomery was named the FSL Pitcher of the Week.
  • Late Update: OF Jake Cave, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Conor Mullee, and RHP Cesar Vargas have all been promoted to Triple-A Scranton, reports Josh Norris and Meister Sports. They’re all filling roster spots in the wave of September call-ups.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — tenth homer of the year … he hit ten homers total from 2010-14
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 2 2B, 1 RBI — with rosters expanding tomorrow, I guess there is a non-zero chance this is the final Triple-A game he ever plays
  • 2B Dustin Ackley: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — played a full nine innings for the first time as part of his rehab … we’ll see him when rosters expand tomorrow
  • LF Jose Pirela: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 1-5, 1 K, 1 PB — assuming he’s the third catcher in September, I’m kinda surprised they let him catch tonight given the risk of injury
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 59 of 95 pitches were strikes (62%) … he’s at 145.1 innings this year after throwing 134.1 last year
  • RHP Chris Martin: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — ten pitches, six strikes

[Read more…]

Game 130: Back in Boston


These late-season series with the Red Sox used to have a lot more pizzazz, you know? That was back when both teams were in contention. The last few years either the Yankees or Red Sox — or both, in the case of last season — were out of the race, and the games didn’t have the same intensity they once did. Don’t get the wrong, the games are still pretty intense, just not as intense as they were seven or eight years ago.

Anyway, this season the Red Sox are out of contention while the Yankees remain atop the wildcard standings and are a good series away from being in first place in the AL East. They took care of business in Atlanta over the weekend, but the Red Sox are better than the Braves, so this series won’t be easy. It never is when these two teams meet. Here is Boston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Ivan Nova

Nice day in Boston. A little cloudy but not much, and there’s no rain the forecast. It’s warm too. Temperatures are in the mid-80s and won’t drop into the 70s until late tonight. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Yanks-Sox is still Grade-A ESPN fodder. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) is not feeling better so the Yankees sent him back to New York for tests. He’s out for this series. “We’re not happy with where he’s at. Just trying to get him healthy,” said Joe Girardi. The Yankees really Metsed this one by not putting him on the DL … CC Sabathia threw approximately 30 pitches in the bullpen today. It was his first time throwing off a mound since landing on the DL. He’ll likely throw one more bullpen session before facing hitters. Also, Brian Cashman said he expects Sabathia to return as a starter, not a reliever.

8/31 to 9/2 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

This photo has a good W-L record. (Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees just swept the last place caliber Braves — Atlanta is in third place because the Marlins and Phillies are even worse, but that’s a last place roster, right? — and now they’re in Boston for a three-game set against the actually in last place Red Sox. The Bombers are 8-5 against the BoSox this season, including 5-1 at Fenway Park.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The Red Sox were just in New York for a three-game series with the Mets. They lost yesterday but won two of three in the series. The BoSox have won eight of their last dozen games overall, so they’re on a decent little late-season run at the moment. They’re still 60-70 with a -38 run differential, however.

Offense & Defense

Depending on your choice of metric, the Red Sox have been either an above-average offense team (4.53 runs per game) or a below-average offensive team (98 wRC+) this season. They’ve been much better in the second half (5.20 runs per game) and especially in August (6.04 runs per game). Boston is without 2B Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) and C Christian Vazquez (elbow) long-term, and both OF Hanley Ramirez (91 wRC+) and C Ryan Hanigan (92 wRC+) are day-to-day with shoulder and calf problems, respectively.

Mookie. (Presswire)
Mookie. (Presswire)

Manager John Farrell is currently away from the team receiving treatment for stage 1 lymphoma, so bench coach Torey Lovullo is serving as the interim manager the rest of the season. Lovullo’s lineup is still built around DH David Ortiz (128 wRC+), who has picked it up of late and is only six home runs away from 500 for his career. OF Mookie Betts (105 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (104 wRC+) have both had good seasons, and UTIL Brock Holt (104 wRC+) has cooled down considerably following his hot start.

OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (135 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Rusney Castillo (106 wRC+ in limited time) are currently flanking Betts while Hanley is out. OF Alejandro De Aza (102 wRC+) will see some platoon action as well. C Blake Swihart (92 wRC+) and 1B Travis Shaw (150 wRC+ in limited time) are getting lots of playing time right now because the Red Sox are pretty much out of it, so they might as well play the young guys. 3B Pablo Sandoval (84 wRC+) has been a massive disappointment and IF Josh Rutledge (105 wRC+ in very limited time) is the backup infielder.

The Red Sox do their best defensive work in the outfield, especially when Hanley sits in favor of Rusney or Bradley. The non-Hanley outfield features three above-average glovemen. Hanley is a total disaster though. Worst defensive outfielder I’ve ever seen. Sandoval has lost a lot of mobility at third. Bogaerts and Holt are solid up the middle and Shaw’s fine at first. Hanigan is a very good defensive catcher but you can run on Swihart (29% caught stealing rate). So I guess that all makes the Red Sox a good defensive club overall.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
Rodriguez, 22, came over from the Orioles in the Andrew Miller trade last year, and is part of Boston’s seemingly never-ending pipeline of pitching prospects who lack an out pitch. His 17.7% strikeout rate and 7.4% swing-and-miss rate are both below the league average. Anyway, Rodriguez has a 4.39 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 16 starts and 92.1 innings with that below-average strikeout rate as well as an above-average walk rate (6.9%), an average grounder rate (45.8%), and a below-average homer rate (1.17 HR/9). Weirdly, lefties (.388 wOBA) have hit him way harder than righties (.286 wOBA) early in his MLB career. Rodriguez has a big fastball, sitting mid-90s with his four-seamer and backing it up with mid-80s sliders and changeups. He uses the slider against lefties and the changeup against righties. The Yankees have seen Rodriguez twice this season, scoring two runs in 6.1 innings in July and two runs in seven innings in August.

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
Boy, this has not been a good season for the usually reliable Porcello, who has a 5.47 ERA (4.52 FIP) in 21 starts and 121.2 innings. His four-year, $82.5M extension doesn’t kick in until next season either. The 26-year-old from New Jersey recently missed four weeks with a triceps issue and has made one start since coming off the DL, tossing seven scoreless against the White Sox last time out. His strikeout (18.4%), grounder (43.4%), and homer (1.48 HR/9) numbers are all below-average, though his walk rate (5.1%) is quite good. Lefties (.373 wOBA) have smacked Porcello around this year. Righties too (.324 wOBA), just not as much. Porcello operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, using them to set up his mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and mid-70s curveball. The curve is his go-to secondary pitch, but he does use them all fairly regularly. Believe it or not, the Yankees have not faced Porcello at all this season. Not once.

Porcello. (Presswire)

Wednesday (4pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Henry Owens (vs. NYY)
The 23-year-old Owens made his MLB debut against the Yankees a few weeks ago, and he now has a 4.03 ERA (4.19 FIP) in five starts and 29 innings. His strikeout rate (22.0%) is pretty good, but he walks too many (8.9%), doesn’t get enough grounders (31.0%), and doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.24 HR/9). Lefties (.348 wOBA) have been more successful against Owens than righties (.308 wOBA) so far, but I’d ignore that entirely. He’s faced 22 left-handed batters as a big leaguer. That’s nothing. Owens has averaged 89.6 mph with his four-seamer according to PitchFX. An upper-70s changeup is his top secondary pitch, though he also uses mid-70s sliders and low-70s curveballs. Not a power arm, this one. The Yankees scored three runs in five innings against Owens in his big league debut.

Bullpen Status
Lovullo’s bullpen is not good and it hasn’t been good all season. As a unit, these guys have a 4.53 ERA (4.20 FIP) overall, and they’re currently without closer RHP Koji Uehara, who broke his wrist a few weeks ago when he was hit by a comebacker. RHP Jean Machi (5.21 ERA/4.45 FIP) is now closing with RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.79/3.04) setting up.

LHP Tommy Layne (4.14/3.75) is Lovullo’s go-to matchup lefty. LHP Craig Breslow (4.25/5.17), RHP Alexi Ogando (3.83/5.64), RHP Heath Hembree (4.85/4.50 in limited time), and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (3.93/3.89) fill out the rest of the bullpen. I’m sure Boston will call up a bunch of extra arms when rosters expand Tuesday. Ross and Hembree both pitched yesterday, otherwise their bullpen is pretty fresh. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, then head over to Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the BoSox.

Update: White Sox pull Robertson back off trade waivers

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

2:11pm ET: As expected, the White Sox pulled Robertson back off trade waivers, reports Heyman. The Yankees couldn’t work out a trade before the 2pm ET deadline. Robertson can not be traded to the Yankees or any other team now. (Well, that’s not true. The White Sox could put him on trade waivers again, but they would not be revocable the second time around.)

11:00am ET: According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have claimed their former closer David Robertson off trade waivers from the White Sox. A deal is considered unlikely, however. The claim expires at 2pm ET today, meaning the two sides have until then to work out a trade. If they don’t, the White Sox will either pull Robertson back (yup) or let him go to the Yankees for nothing (nope).

Robertson, 30, is having another excellent year, pitching to a 2.60 ERA (2.09 FIP) with a career best 5.4% walk rate in 52 innings. His strikeout rate is still elite (35.0%) but he is getting fewer grounders than he has at any point in the last five seasons (38.3%), though that’s not necessarily a red flag. D-Rob has always gotten a ton of weak pop-ups. Robertson’s been Robertson. Pretty much the same guy we watched in pinstripes all those years.

The Yankees let Robertson walk this past offseason for big picture reasons. They decided they were better off signing Andrew Miller to a smaller contract and getting the draft pick for Robertson, which makes sense. Miller signed a four-year, $36M deal while Robertson took four years and $46M from Chicago. So the Yankees ended up with a comparable reliever, a draft pick (used to take shortstop Kyle Holder), and an extra $2.5M per year.

Prior to the trade deadline the Yankees reportedly spoke to the Padres about closer Craig Kimbrel, and were said to be willing to part with top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo to make it happen. Robertson is not as good as Kimbrel and he’s owed more money ($38M through 2018 vs. $27M through 2017), though that doesn’t mean he would come cheap. Consistently great relievers are very hard to find. Robertson’s a valuable commodity.

Last week Brain Cashman confirmed the Yankees have placed a lot of waiver claims this month, though obviously none of those players ended up in pinstripes. I think claiming Robertson was more about blocking him from potentially going to the Blue Jays or Astros, two other AL contenders the Yankees will have to deal with either again in the regular season or possibly in the postseason, than it was bringing him back to New York.

Teams don’t claim players unless they are comfortable taking on the contract, though I don’t think the White Sox would let Robertson go for nothing. The contract isn’t that onerous. The Yankees were hesitant to trade close to MLB prospects at the deadline and there’s no reason to think they’d be more willing to trade them for Robertson now, not when they already have a great bullpen.