Archive for Cody Eppley
Billy Butler is one of the most unheralded great hitters in baseball. The 26-year-old is hitting .301/.361/.515 with eight homers in 180 plate appearances this season and with all due respect to Mike Moustakas, he’s clearly the biggest threat in Kansas City’s lineup. That’s why it was surprising when Joe Girardi called on Cody Eppley, an up-and-down right-handed reliever, to face Butler with a man on first and no outs in the eighth inning of a one-run game last night.
Eppley, 26, used three upper-80s sinkers to get Butler to fly out harmlessly to right for the first out of the inning. It was the only batter he would face but was one of the most important plate appearances of the game in terms of Leverage Index (3.38). Of course, Girardi called up Eppley hoping for a double play ball on the ground. The sidearming righty has a 66.7% ground ball rate in limited big league action this season but was at 82% in Triple-A according to First Inning. His career minor league ground ball rate is roughly 61%.
He didn’t get the double play ball but Eppley did get a chance to pitch in a pretty big spot. He’s been hell on right-handed batters throughout his Triple-A career (.211/.291/.265 against with a 28.5 K%), which isn’t a surprise given his arm slot and sinker-slider combination. That’s going to be his role in the big leagues, a righty matchup guy who specializes in ground balls. Think Burke Badenhop or Brad Ziegler or Joe Smith. A useful pieces for the middle innings but not exactly your relief ace.
Eppley is only on the roster for one reason right now: David Robertson‘s injury. Robertson is still feeling some pain in his strained left oblique and has yet to pick up a ball, so he’s probably a week to ten days away from returning to the club in the best case scenario. It depends on how many minor league rehab appearances the team has him make, if any. That gives Eppley another handful of appearances to show that he can contribute to the Yankees on a regular basis, at least moreso than Freddy Garcia. That’s his goal, out-pitch Freddy.
The only problem with carrying Eppley instead of Garcia long-term is that you’re stuck with two specialists in the bullpen between him and Clay Rapada*. Those are two guys who are most effective when kept away from batters of he opposite hand and it really hamstrings the manager and increases the workload on the other relievers. I’d prefer to see David Phelps in a multi-inning setup-type role rather than assuming long man work from a departed Garcia, so Eppley could be squeezed out of the bullpen until the next injury. It will be interesting to see how he’s used until Robertson returns; more opportunities like the one we saw last night would be an indication that the Yankees are giving him a longer look and a chance to earn a spot on the roster even when their top late-inning arm gets healthy.
* Boone Logan has been incredibly effective of late and is pitching like more than a lefty specialist at the moment, so we’ll give him a pass for now.
4:04pm: It’s official, Robertson has been placed on the DL with a strained left oblique. That bites. He’s not going to pick up a ball for 7-10 days.
12:30pm: Via Bryan Hoch, setup man/temporary closer David Robertson underwent an MRI this morning and the team is still awaiting results on his injured ribcage. Hopefully we get some news when Joe Girardi speaks to the media prior to tonight’s game. The test was performed in New York, so Robertson is not with the team at the moment. Baltimore’s not exactly a long trip, however.
Via Pete Caldera, the Yankees are going to recall outfielder Dewayne Wise from Triple-A. He’s on his way to Kansas City and may even already be there. I assume Mariano Rivera was placed on the 15-day DL to clear a roster spot for Wise while either Michael Pineda or Cesar Cabral was transferred to the 60-day DL to open a 40-man roster.
Wise, 34, posted a .459 wOBA in 19 Triple-A games but hitting his not his forte. He’s a defensive stud capable of manning all three outfield spots with aplomb. Nick Swisher took batting practice on the field today according to Erik Boland, but perhaps the Wise move indicates that Swisher’s hamstring is still giving him a problem. He got hurt last Sunday and the Yankees have been playing with a short bench ever since.
Update (5:41pm): The Yankees announced that right-hander D.J. Mitchell was optioned back to Triple-A, so Swisher avoids the DL. Pineda was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot for Wise. Just to quickly recap: Wise and Eppley up, Mitchell down, and Mo to the DL.
Update (12:09pm): As expected, Eppley has been sent down to Triple-A to make room on the roster for Mitchell.
11:42am: Freddy Garcia has been bumped from the rotation and will pitch out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. Joe Girardi hinted at both Mitchell and David Phelps being candidates to fill the rotation void, probably depending on who is needed out of the bullpen the next few days.
10:48am:The Yankees have recalled D.J. Mitchell from Triple-A, the team announced. There’s no word on the corresponding roster move, but I suspect Cody Eppley will be sent down after throwing three innings and 37 pitches yesterday. No 40-man roster move is required.
Mitchell, 24, was scheduled to start for Triple-A Empire State today, so he’s fresh and available for a whole lot of innings. He had been the best starter on the club’s top minor league affiliate in the early going, pitching to a 3.13 ERA with 8.22 K/9 (24.1 K%), 2.74 BB/9 (8.1 BB%), and a 48% ground ball rate in 21 IP across four starts. I ranked him as the Yankees’ 16th best prospect before the season.
Update (11:21pm): Via Sweeny Murti, Gardner has a bone bruise and a strain in his right elbow. It happened making that catch Tuesday night. No word on the timetable for his return, but Joe Girardi indicated that he could be back in 15 days during his post-game press conference.
10:44pm: Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees will place Brett Gardner on the disabled list and recall right-handed reliever Cody Eppley. Gardner was a late scratch tonight due to stiffness in his right elbow, and it’s obviously something more than routine soreness if he’s already on the shelf. If you remember, he made an sliding catch in last night’s game and appeared to land on his arm/wrist awkwardly. He said after the game that he was fine, but you never know.
I hope the Eppley move is just temporary; I’m not a big fan of 13-man pitching staffs. The Yankees don’t have any Triple-A outfielders on the 40-man roster, but they can easily make room for Dewayne Wise — who’s hitting the snot out of the ball so far — or Chris Dickerson by sliding Joba Chamberlain or Cesar Cabral over to the 60-day DL. I suppose it depends on Gardner’s diagnosis and his recovery time.
The Yankees have claimed right-handed reliever Cody Eppley off waivers from the Rangers, the team announced. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Empire State and effectively replaces the traded George Kontos on the relief depth chart. The Yankees had an open 40-man roster spot, so no other move was necessary.
The 26-year-old Eppley is a big tall guy (listed at a 6-foot-5) with a low arm slot, replying on an upper-80s fastball and a sweepy upper-70s slider. He has a history of crushing right-handed batters, holding them to a .217/.301/.279 batting line with a 26.7% strikeout rate in Triple-A last season. In his big league debut with Texas last season, he gave up eight runs in nine innings. Here’s some video.