Yankees send Tyler Webb to Brewers for Garrett Cooper

(@Brewers)
(@Brewers)

A trade! A small one, but a trade nonetheless. The Yankees have shipped lefty reliever Tyler Webb to the Brewers for Triple-A first baseman Garrett Cooper, both teams have announced. This is very much a spare part for spare part trade. The Yankees need first base help and the Brewers need a lefty reliever, so they got together for a minor deal.

Cooper, 26, is hitting .366/.428/.652 (171 wRC+) with 17 homers in 75 Triple-A games this season, though he’s playing in an extreme hitter’s park in Colorado Springs. So far this year’s hit .442/.503/.829 at home and .300/.359/.500 on the road, in all the other hitter friendly Pacific Coast League ballparks. Consider yourself forewarned: don’t read too much into the overall stat line.

The Yankees are tentatively scheduled to face four left-handed starters in the first give games of the second half, so I think there’s a decent chance the right-handed hitting Cooper will join the Yankees in Boston tomorrow for his MLB debut. They’ve been use Austin Romine as a platoon first baseman in recent weeks and no. Just no. I highly doubt the Yankees are looking at Cooper as a long-term first base solution. He’s a Tyler Austin replacement, basically.

Webb, 27 next week, has allowed three runs in six innings with the Yankees this year. He also has a 3.24 ERA (2.15 FIP) in 33.1 Triple-A innings. This was his fourth year spending time at Triple-A. The Pirates took a look at Webb as a Rule 5 Draft pick in Spring Training, and, when he didn’t stick, he cleared waivers and was returned to the Yankees. Going to the Brewers should be a pretty good opportunity for Webb.

With Webb gone and Tommy Layne recently released, the Yankees are left with Chasen Shreve as their only real lefty reliever option. (Not counting Aroldis Chapman.) There’s Joe Mantiply in Triple-A, and I guess they could give Caleb Smith or Dietrich Enns a try in relief, but that’s about it. The Yankees have been looking for a lefty reliever since the offseason and there’s no reason to think that’ll change.

The Yankees now have an open 40-man roster spot and an open 25-man roster spot, both of which could go to Cooper if he is called up. I suppose the other alternative is playing Matt Holliday, who is tentatively scheduled to come off the disabled list tomorrow, at first base and continuing the four-man outfield rotation. Hmmm. Then again, the Yankees would be playing both Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury against lefties in that scenario. We’ll see.

Scouting the Trade Market: Tommy Joseph

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

If the Yankees are going to be buyers at the deadline, they’re more likely to go for a temporary replacement at first base rather than a long-term solution. Despite comments from an anonymous person in the front office, there’s still belief that Greg Bird can be the first baseman of the future.

Assuming the Yankees go that route, Domenic covered the options pretty well already. However, I’d like to throw out a name of a player that’s under long-term control and could fill the short-term need as well.

Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph is in just his second MLB season and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2020. This isn’t a rental. But with first base prospect Rhys Hoskins knocking on the door of the major leagues, the team has made Joseph available.

Does he fit the Yankees? Let’s take a look:

Current performance

Joseph has been in the major leagues for nearly a year and a half now. He was called up last May. Initially, he was primarily a platoon bat alongside Ryan Howard. However, his early power earned him everyday playing time last summer before Howard surged in the second half.

This year, he has been the starting first baseman all season. He put together an abominable April (.179/.222./.254 in 19 games) before killing the ball in May to the tune of a .300/.373/.600 line with seven home runs. He’s hit well since then. In total, he’s hit .252/.313/.466 (102 wRC+), below the average first baseman’s line. Still, it’s better than anything out of a Yankees’ first baseman this season. For what it’s worth, he’s hitting .273/.339/.529 (125 wRC+) since May 1.

Diving further into his stats, Joseph has one significant tool: Power. 32 of his 74 hits have gone for extra bases, including 15 home runs. He hit 21 home runs in just 347 plate appearances last year. That power has been his calling card at every level. Through 670 MLB PAs, he has 36 home runs and 31 doubles to go with a .233 ISO.

He struggles to command the strike zone. His walk rate is up from 6.3 to 7.7 percent this year, but his strikeout rate also climbed from 21.6 to 23.5. Hoskins, who will likely take his job soon, has drawn plenty of walks in the minors, which Joseph never did.

Joseph, who turns 26 on July 16, was drafted by the Giants as a catcher, but concussions moved him out from behind the plate. He’s a well below-average first baseman. Better than Howard, but not by much. He makes the routine plays better than Chris Carter but his lack of range limits his ability to make any tough plays.

He’s also a negative on the base paths. His 25.7 ft/s sprint speed according to Statcast would make him the slowest player on the Yankees and he’s tied for third in baseball in double plays grounded into with 15, just two behind teammate Maikel Franco and Matt Kemp for first place. He often pulls the ball on the ground, though he hits the ball to all fields in the air. He’s still primarily a pull hitter, as you’ll see below.

(Baseball Savant)
(Baseball Savant)

He’s produced 0.2 bWAR (0.0 fWAR) this year after 0.5 bWAR (0.9fWAR) as part-time player last year. The Phillies have the third worst bWAR at first base, only one spot ahead of Yankees. That’s largely because of Joseph’s fielding and nearly zero production from the Phillies’ backups.

Contract and injury situation

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Joseph is very cheap when it comes to first base options on the market. He won’t be a free agent until 2023 and won’t make above the minimum until 2020. He’s been barely above replacement level thus far, but his contract gives him value, especially for a team that has received below replacement value at first this year. He still has options left as well.

As for injuries, Joseph has had a clean bill of health in the majors. His concussions issues have subsided in the last two years and that led to his resurgence as a prospect and, ultimately, his call-up to the majors. He’s been able to handle first base consistently without breaking down this season.

While he’s under control, the Phillies aren’t in a spot to demand much. Most teams don’t have a need for a no-glove first baseman with some power as most teams already have someone who at least fits that. The Yankees are one of a few teams that have an opening and could make sense.

Teams also know that the Phillies need to dispatch Joseph to give Hoskins an opportunity in the majors. Neither has the range to play the outfield and they’re both RHBs, so one has to go. Acquiring him shouldn’t cost too much more than a secondary or tertiary prospect or so.

Does he make sense for the Yankees?

Joseph would be an immediate improvement for the Yankees at first in the lineup, adding some power towards the end of the lineup. Realistically, he could do what Carter was expected to do. He’d make sense in a platoon with Ji-Man Choi for the time being as Joseph was solid in that role last season.

If you’re going to acquire a first baseman with this much control, you need to be certain that he fits into your long-term plans. And it doesn’t seem like he fits in New York beyond this season. In the case Bird comes back healthy, Joseph becomes a platoon bat at best. Expendable or optionable like he is for the Phillies at worst. If Bird isn’t healthy, the Yankees would likely acquire a veteran free agent to start in his place.

Joseph could be a serviceable placeholder with the requisite power to play first. The 25-year-old is not someone to acquire for significant assets, but he’s a useful depth piece in the short term. If the Yankees are intrigued by Pat Neshek, a package deal could work. Ultimately though, it’s tough to see where Joseph gets playing time beyond 2017 in New York.

First pitcher off the board: Cubs acquire Jose Quintana

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

The first major trade domino has fallen. This morning the Cubs and White Sox announced left-hander Jose Quintana is heading to the north side for a package of four prospects, including top prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease. Quintana’s been on the block for a while and the Cubbies desperate need rotation help, both short and long-term, so the two Chicago teams got together for a blockbuster.

My quick take on the trade: it’s fair for both sides. Boring, I know, but it is what it is. Jimenez is very good, one of the top prospects in the sport, and Cease has a ton of upside despite some arm problems. Quintana is excellent and has been for years now. Even after a slow start to this season, he’s settled in nicely the last few weeks and has dragged his numbers down to 4.49 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 104.1 innings. Plus he’s signed affordably through 2020.

The Yankees have been connected to Quintana in recent weeks and months (and years). Baseball America recently ranked Jimenez and Cease as the 5th and 83rd best prospects in baseball, respectively. The other two prospects in the trade, first baseman Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete, weren’t among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects. An equivalent Yankees package would have been something like Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, and two others.

For all intents and purposes, the White Sox traded Quintana for the Andrew Miller package. Two top 100 prospects plus two others. The Yankees have been hesitant to trade their top prospects this far and I’m not surprised they declined to get into a bidding war for Quintana, no matter how much he would have helped them now and going forward. The White Sox have prioritized upside in their recent trades and they’re doing a great job restocking the system.

With Quintana off the board, the best available starting pitcher at the trade deadline will be, uh, Sonny Gray? Maybe Gerrit Cole? We have to see how the market develops. I’d take Quintana over either Gray or Cole, and I love Sonny Gray, at least when he’s healthy. Anyway, the trade deadline is now 18 days away and the first domino just fell. The floodgates could open soon.

Thoughts before the second half of the season

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Tomorrow night the Yankees will open the second half of the 2017 season with the first of four games at Fenway Park. Four games in three days against the Red Sox right out of the gate. That’ll be fun. This second half will be … interesting. That’s a good word. Anyway, I have some thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. The Yankees are going to get some more players back very soon. Matt Holliday had his little two-game rehab assignment last week and is expected to rejoin the Yankees tomorrow night, for the series opener against the Red Sox. Starlin Castro is going to begin a rehab assignment soon and is only a few days away from returning as well. Those two guys won’t help the bullpen, which has been the team’s biggest problem for a few weeks now, but they’re going to help in general. The more good players, the better. I’ve seen too many games with Chase Headley batting fifth and Austin Romine batting seventh the last two weeks or so. Until the bullpen gets fixed, either by bringing in new players or having the existing players improve their performance, the Yankees’ best chance to win involves scoring a boatload of runs. Give those relievers as much breathing room as possible. Getting Holliday and then Castro back is going to go a long way toward beefing up the offense.

2. I wonder whether the Yankees and Joe Girardi will take the reins off Chad Green down the stretch. Right now he’s not working back-to-back days, and yeah, part of that is the fact he often throws multiple innings. But even in situations where he doesn’t throw a ton of pitches, he has been deemed unavailable the next night. Green is still relatively new to the bullpen after spending just about his entire career as a starting pitcher, so I get why the Yankees are being careful with him. They’re protecting him. His 2016 season ended early due to an elbow injury, remember. Now that he has some bullpen time under his belt and has been successful, plus most of the rest of the bullpen has been unreliable, I think the Yankees might consider expanding Green’s role a bit and have him pitch back-to-back days in the second half (when appropriate). It would be great if they found some other reliable relievers and didn’t have to push Green, but I’m not sure how possible that is. Is there a realistic scenario in which Green is, say, the fifth best reliever in the bullpen down the stretch? I don’t see it.

3. What will happen with Clint Frazier when Holliday returns? Holliday and later Aaron Hicks. With Hicks is still a few weeks away, so this isn’t a pressing issue. My guess is Frazier will do exactly what Hicks was doing earlier this year, meaning play just about every day and rotate around the outfield. We know Aaron Judge isn’t going to sit. So the Yankees will effectively rotate Frazier, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury between left field and center field. Once Hicks returns, who knows? That’s not really worth worrying about now though. A lot could change between now and then. There could be a trade or Frazier could play his way back to Triple-A by then. Right now though, the Yankees can’t — and shouldn’t — take him out of the lineup given how much damage he’s doing at the plate. The guy has three homers, two triples, one double, and one single in seven big league games. The Yankees have to keep playing the kid. They’ll be at their best with Holliday and Castro and Frazier in the lineup regularly going forward.

4. Speaking about possible trades, right now the Yankees are in the most unpredictable place leading up to the deadline. They could easily justify buying and easily justify selling. And, really, they could do both. I could see them moving, say, Michael Pineda before losing him for nothing as a free agent while also using some prospects to acquire a longer term piece. Buying vs. selling is not binary. The Yankees can do both and, depending on what trade opportunities arise, it would make sense to do both. Remember in the offseason when Brian Cashman said the time wasn’t right to swing a blockbuster trade for a guy like Chris Sale? Well, it’s starting to get to be that time, right? The new core is emerging and the Yankees have more prospects at peak value in the farm system than they could ever possibly use in the big leagues. These days most blockbusters involving non-rentals do not happen at the trade deadline so I don’t expect to see something like that happen before July 31st. A move like that figures to wait for the offseason. Point is, I don’t see the Yankees as strictly buyers and strictly sellers. They’ll have an opportunity to do a little of both at the trade deadline in a few weeks.

5. How ridiculous was Judge’s performance in the Home Run Derby? His swings resulted in 47 home runs and 29 non-home runs. The first round matchup with Justin Bour was thrilling. The second and third round meetings with Cody Bellinger and Miguel Sano were pretty anticlimactic. You knew Judge was going to win as soon as you saw Bellinger’s and Sano’s home run totals. Judge needed eleven home runs to beat Sano in the finals and he got there with 1:53 still on the clock. Insane. Every other player was so clearly fatigued during the Home Run Derby and yet Judge was still at full strength in the final round. How is this guy real? Two things about Judge’s performance: one, he used all fields. Here’s his Home Run Derby spray chart, via Baseball Savant:

aaron-judge-home-run-derby-spray-chartJudge hit a few balls into the upper deck in right field, where the left-handed power hitters like Bour and Bellinger were hitting them. Judge was doing that to the opposite field. That’s not normal. And two, Judge hit some balls out of the park without squaring them up. There were more than a few homers that looked like a medium deep pop-up off the bat that just carried over the fence. Nobody does that. Nobody other than Judge. The Home Run Derby was almost like a normal batting practice session for him. He hit to all fields and didn’t get pull happy, and he made it look easy. I’m so happy this guy is a Yankee.

6. An anonymous Yankees person bashing Greg Bird really don’t sit well with me. If you missed it last week, here’s the full quote from a “Yankee insider” to Bill Madden:

“You really have to wonder what’s with this guy,” a Yankee insider complained to me earlier this week. “You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here he’d want to be a part of this. Apparently not.”

What garbage. I suppose a “Yankee insider” could be anyone, even someone outside the organization, but I doubt it. The Yankees haven’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt after Randy Levine trashed Dellin Betances and Lonn Trost ripped on non-wealthy fans. They have a history of doing this stuff. There are two possibilities here, right? Either Bird isn’t actually hurt and doesn’t want to be a big leaguer, or Bird is hurt and someone with the Yankees said something stupid. Hmmm, I wonder which one it is? Anyway, the bigger point here is that all this stuff keeps happening with the players the Yankees should be building around and promoting. Betances is no worse than the fourth best homegrown reliever in franchise history and the team president rips him because he had the audacity to ask for what he’s worth. Frazier is the top prospect the Yankees acquired in a trade that sent a very popular player the other way, and the Yankees made a spectacle of his forced haircut. Now Bird is hurt and someone is questioning whether he actually wants to play. What the hell is that? It’s one thing to say Betances overreached with his arbitration salary request. It’s another to question a dude’s competitiveness and desire like the “Yankee insider” did with Bird. Questioning someone’s heart on the condition of anonymity is straight up gutless. There’s no other word for it.

DotF: Rutherford and Garcia extend hitting streaks in wins

Triple-A Scranton is off until Thursday for the All-Star break. The All-Star Game is tonight and it is still ongoing as of this writing. Here’s the box score.

  • LHP Caleb Smith: 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%) … ouch, rough All-Star Game appearance
  • OF Dustin Fowler was also selected to the All-Star Game but did not play because he is both in the big leagues and injured.

Double-A Trenton is also off until Thursday for the All-Star break. The All-Star Game was tonight (East 7, West 1).

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB — started and played the entire game
  • RF Zack Zehner: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI — came off the bench to win MVP honors
  • RHP Yefry Ramirez: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%) … threw the second inning
  • LHP Nestor Cortes, 1B Mike Ford, and LHP Justus Sheffield were all selected to the All-Star rosters but did not play. Ford was recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton and Sheffield is out with an oblique injury. Cortes was available but simply didn’t pitch.

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

The All-Star festivities are over and now we have two baseball-less days to sit back and relax before the second half begins Friday. These next few weeks are going to be pretty interesting. I have no idea what to expect from the Yankees going forward. Anyway, make sure you check out David Waldstein’s profile on Danilo Valiente, the Yankees’ batting practice pitcher who threw to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez at the Home Run Derby. Valiente has a pretty neat backstory and the players love him. The profile is a few years old but I didn’t see it until the other day. Give it a read.

Here is an open thread for the night. There’s not a whole lot going on. The Triple-A All-Star Game will be on MLB Network at 9pm ET and that’s about it. (The game is on the West Coast.) LHP Caleb Smith will represent the Yankees. OF Dustin Fowler was also selected to the game before his injury. Talk about that game, the Valiente profile, or anything that isn’t religion or politics here.

2017 Midseason Review: The Bullpen

(AP)
(AP)

The Yankees’ bullpen was supposed to be a strength in 2017 after it helped hold together the 2016 squad. Aroldis Chapman back, Dellin Betances still in middle relief and some intriguing young players.

And it looked like a continuation of 2016 early on. But things have quickly gone off the rails over the last month. Here’s a rundown of the top players in the Yankees’ pen so far this year.

Dellin Betances

Key Stat: 8.26 walks per nine innings

Betances has never been known for his pinpoint control, but he’s barely had an idea where the ball is going in recent weeks. Like many of the guys on the roster, reviewing Betances’ season is almost like reviewing two seasons.

Through the end of May, he was the Yankees’ best reliever as expected. In 17 1/3 innings, he struck out 32, walked nine, gave up eight hits and just one earned run. That’s an ERA of just 0.52. There’s a reason he just made his fourth straight All-Star appearance.

But his 11 innings since June began have been troubling. He’s walked 17 in 11 innings, allowing nine runs despite giving up just six hits (and still striking out 21). He blew multiple games (Toronto, Houston, Chicago come to mind).

He hasn’t looked anything like this since he first came up in 2011. Sure, he’s had walk issues (4.3 per nine in 2015), but this has been pretty absurd. 20.6 percent walk rate. He actually still has the same strikeout rate because his stuff is still there. Whether it’s been his nasty curve or his fastball, they’ve betrayed him at times. The Blue Jays game last week jumps to mind.

One issue that could have led to his lack of command has been his usage. From May 9 to May 21, he picked up just two outs. From June 3 to June 12, he pitched in just one game and got just one out. It’s nice to see a lesser workload for the big man who’s been overused at times in his career, but he needs to get into games more often. Part of his underuse was the injury to Chapman leading to Joe Girardi using Betances as a traditional closer.

Aroldis Chapman

Key Stat: 35 days on the disabled list

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Perhaps the worst nightmare of a team giving a reliever a five-year deal is them spending significant time on the DL with a shoulder injury. That fear was realized when Chapman went down with rotator cuff inflammation in May.

Chapman seemed off at start of the year. His velocity was down, although it wasn’t too worrisome at first. The big lefty usually doesn’t hit peak velocity until mid-season. Still, seeing him toy with his changeup more and throw *merely* in the high 90s was a caution flag. Beginning with his struggles against Boston on Apr. 26, he looked hittable. It came to a head when he blew a three-run lead during the Yankees’ 18-inning win in Chicago. He simply couldn’t put guys away, which may have been due to his lower velocity, down one mph across the board so far in 2017.

His stuff has looked good since he returned and his strikeouts are still there. His underlying stats (1.16 FIP, career worst strand rate) indicate that a second-half resurgence is likely. Yet this is certainly not what the Yankees imagined when they signed him to a long-term deal.

Let’s get to some of the weird stats. He has allowed zero home runs this year. He has a .426 BABIP but a 27.3 percent infield fly ball rate. His 2.09 GB-to-FB ratio is easily a career high (previous was 1.58 in 2016, never higher than 1.25 since 2011). Surely he’ll allow a home run at some point and some of the BABIP spike can be from more groundballs getting through, but it’s still a little different than the Chapman we expected.

Tyler Clippard

Key Stat: 12 meltdowns

Welp.

It hasn’t been a pretty last two months for Clippard. He started to fall apart right after I wrote that fans should appreciate the homegrown talent. Mike was very much on point saying that his lack of home runs would soon change (although I never thought otherwise), but it was tough to see things going quite this poorly, at least for me.

For two months, he was a seemingly reliable pitcher. There were some rough games, including a blown game against the Orioles in his second appearance. But he struck out batters at a career-best rate through two months and had limited walks and hard contact enough to earn high leverage spots. The red flags of his high strand rate (88.5 percent through May) and zero homers in May made it fairly obvious he wouldn’t maintain that level of effectiveness.

Still, it went south worst than expected. Way worse. One could have easily projected he’d give up more homers, but for him to completely fall apart was disheartening. Relievers are fungible and such is life.

From June 4 to July 7, he threw 11 1/3 innings, gave up 16 earned runs, walked 10 and surrendered five homers, culminating fittingly in a grand slam against the Brewers this weekend. That’s 7.9 walks and 4.0 homers per nine innings. His K-BB rate was 3.4 percent. Batters hit .298/.414/766 against him in that time. Before that, they hit a paltry .150/.244/.238.

At this point, one has to wonder whether he makes it through the season, let alone the month. His stuff seems to have had a little more life on it in recent games, but the results simply aren’t there and trotting him into high leverage situations right now is a costly mistake.

Adam Warren

Key Stat: 18.1 K-BB percentage

Warren has been one of the Yankees’ more reliable relievers this season and it’s started to earn him some spots ahead of Clippard since he returned from the DL last week. He missed 18 days with right shoulder inflammation, although it didn’t seem to be anything too serious. He’s jumped right back to form for the most part.

In April, he was mostly a long reliever despite being in short relief to end 2016. In seven appearances to start the year, he had six of at least four outs and four of seven-plus outs. He came in with the team ahead or behind, keeping games within reach or preventing any comebacks.

After Chapman’s injury, he moved into short relief as Girardi’s 7th-inning game. He had three blown leads but was competent, bringing a 2.23 ERA into his stint on the DL beginning June 16.

What has he had working for him? His strikeout and walk rates are both career bests. He’s utilized his slider more (up 12 percent) while decreasing the usage of his other offspeed stuff. While that doesn’t necessarily account for his better control, it could be the reason he’s struck out more batters.

There is a red flag: His 2.9 percent HR/FB rate. He’s bound to let some balls leave the yard in the second half. He has an increased groundball rate and GB/FB ratio, which could help explain part of that.

Since returning to the Yankees last July, he has a 2.59 ERA in 66 innings with batters slashing .191/.260/.298 against him. It’s been a nice welcome back.

Chad Green

Key Stat: 34.7 percent strikeout rate

Green. (Getty)
(Getty Images)

Since coming up for the first time in May, Green has been a revelation in relief. He’s mostly filled in with Warren’s old role of the multi-inning reliever, throwing 33 innings in 17 games, including one brief start.

Green displayed his potential last year in the rotation and was one of the last cuts in spring training‘s battle for the fifth starter role. He’s struck out batters at every level but his fastball-slider combo seemed best suited for relief (S/O against to Mike, who called it).

Perhaps his biggest flaw in 2016 was his performance against lefties, who posted a 1.014 OPS against the righty. He actually has a slight reverse split in 2017 in a small sample, giving up just four hits in 35 at-bats vs. LHBs. He’s introduced his cutter more at times but he’s also just relied more on his four-seamer, throwing it over 60 percent of the time the last two months.

His flyball has increased, but HR/FB way down from 25 percent to 9.4, much closer to league average. The 25 percent last year seemed like somewhat an outlier. Even a few more homers won’t spoil his 1.91 ERA too much

Overall, he’s blowing people away with mid/upper 90s fastball and his top notch slider, sporting a 5.25 K/BB ratio. He looks more and more like a late inning reliever and his ability to throw multiple innings increases his value moving forward.

Jonathan Holder

Key Stat: 5 meltdowns in 32 games

Holder earned a spot in the bullpen this spring after making a brief call-up in September. After pitching mostly in mop-up duty to start the year, he slowly inched his way into a few higher leverage spots, but he never rose too high in the bullpen pecking order. His best outings came in the Cubs series, when he earned a win in the first game before throwing three shutout innings in relief during the 18-inning affair.

As stated above, he had a few meltdowns. He was tossed into a one-run game against the Orioles Apr. 30 and handed the Orioles a 4-2 lead against the heart of the order. He allowed the Royals to blow a game open in May. And he received a blown save and a loss during the cursed West Coast trip.

In the minors, Holder made his name for his high strikeout rate. His 22.9 percent K rate in 2017 isn’t bad, but it’s not quite what he was doing in the minors. The team still seems high on the 24-year-old and he’s been solid this year. Not spectacular, but fine in low-leverage relief.

It’s easy to forget because he was sent down for a while and didn’t factor into many decisions, but he’s thrown the third-most relief innings for the Yankees behind Warren and Clippard. In the second half, he’ll surely get another chance to stick in the majors.

15 pitchers have seen time in relief for the Yankees this season. Not quite the shuttle of past years, though they’ve shuffled through multiple guys in recent weeks. Chasen Shreve has seemed to stick as the token lefty with Tommy Layne gone and he’s been … pretty average. Better than last year, but not near his dominant summer of 2015. I’m a believer in Bryan Mitchell and Domingo German as potential relievers, but they likely won’t see much time in the eight-man pen.

With Clippard’s struggles, the Yankees surely will be in the market for a reliever. For now, they’ll have to hope for better second halves from Chapman and Betances alongside continued success from Warren and Green.