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:

IP ERA FIP K% BB% GB% HR/9
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
MLB RP AVG
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.

Game 115: The Day After

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

My heart is still pumping after that game last night. That was something else. Been a while since a baseball game made me feel that way. But today is a new day, and what happened yesterday is in past. The Yankees have another game this afternoon and a chance to win the series over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. I’d like that, especially after last weekend.

The Yankees have the right guy on the mound this afternoon in Masahiro Tanaka, who has been really homer prone of late, but also pretty good. Last weekend he held the Jays to three hits — two solo homers — in six innings and could have gone out for the seventh because he’d only thrown 80 pitches. Hopefully Tanaka goes deeper into the game today and keeps the ball in the park. Here is Toronto’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. SS Didi Gregorus
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy, cool, and humid in Toronto this afternoon, and there is some rain in the forecast, so I’m guessing the Rogers Centre roof will be closed. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:07pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Move: The Yankees have recalled Caleb Cotham and designated Chris Capuano for assignment, the team announced. I guess that means Bryan Mitchell is available for long relief work again.

Injury Update: Forgot to mention this in the recap last night, but x-rays on Ivan Nova‘s finger came back negative following last night’s game. He took that hard-hit grounder to the hand in the third inning. It got him in the ring finger. Nova stayed in the game and didn’t seem to have any problems afterward … Diego Moreno will have bone chips removed from his elbow, Brian Cashman announced. Moreno had been pitching when them for years, but they didn’t become a problem until recently.

Game 113: If Greg Bird Can’t Save Them, No One Can

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have lost five straight games and they’ve scored six runs in those five games. Four of the six came in one game. The Blue Jays already won today — it was their 11th straight win — so the Yankees have to snap their losing streak tonight just to keep pace in the AL East. They’re in chase mode now.

Earlier today the Yankees called up first base prospect Greg Bird, and it sure seems like the team is acknowledging they are worried Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira may wear down (or are wearing down) in the second half. Bird is here to back up both guys and it seems likely he will play more than Garrett Jones did. That’s a pretty safe bet. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  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 Stephen Drew
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s cloudy and cool again in Cleveland with only a tiny bit of rain in the forecast. Nothing that will cause a postponement or anything. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: Bird was called up, obviously. Nick Goody was sent down to clear a 25-man roster spot and Diego Moreno was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot, the Yankees announced. Goody pitched in each of the last two games and would have been unavailable tonight. The Yankees are back to a four-man bench and seven-man bullpen.

Injury Update: Michael Pineda (forearm) threw his first bullpen session since landing on the DL and everything went fine. He said he “felt 100%.” Pineda will make his first minor league rehab start with Double-A Trenton on Sunday. He’s scheduled to throw 45 pitches. Looking at the calendar, Pineda could make three rehab starts and then be activated to start on September 1st, the day rosters expand. It lines up perfectly.

Game 104: End of the Road Trip

(David Banks/Getty)
(David Banks/Getty)

The three-city, ten-game road trip ends today. The Yankees are 5-4 in the first nine games of the trip, which is a bit disappointing considering they won four of the first five games. The offense has certainly shown up this trip (66 runs scored in the nine games) but the pitching has not (50 runs allowed).

Ivan Nova gets the ball this afternoon after leaving his last start with arm fatigue, which the Yankees insist is just a normal dead arm phase following Tommy John surgery. The rotation is really starting to become an issue — the starters have allowed 35 runs in 45.2 innings on the trip — so a solid outing from Nova would be very appreciated. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

It is cloudy and very windy in Chicago this afternoon. I don’t know if that means the ball will be flying out of the park or getting knocked down. We’ll find out soon enough. Either way, first pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy the game, folks.

Injury Updates: Diego Moreno has been placed on the DL with irritation in the back of his elbow, Joe Girardi announced. Moreno said he doesn’t think it is serious but he will see Dr. James Andrews tomorrow … Beltran is good to go today. He sat yesterday in part due to soreness in his foot. He fouled a couple pitches into his foot the last few days.

Roster Updates: Chris Capuano has cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton after being designated for assignment a few days ago. He’s starting for the RailRiders today. Capuano could have elected free agency, but he would have forfeited about $2M in free agency by doing so. My guess is we’ll see him again when rosters expand in September … Branden Pinder has been recalled to replace Moreno on the roster.

Game 99: Bullpen Game

(Tom Pennington/Getty)
(Tom Pennington/Getty)

In the interest of self-preservation, the Yankees are pushing everyone in their rotation back a day and using a spot sixth starter tonight. Except there’s no spot starter. It’s going to be a bullpen game — Chris Capuano and Adam Warren are expected to throw roughly 50 pitches each, then the rest of the relievers will take over from there. It’s not ideal, but there aren’t any other options right now.

On the bright side, the Yankees have won eight of ten games since the All-Star break and have a nice little seven-game lead in the AL East. The division looked wide-open coming into the season and we all kinda waiting for some team to got hot and run away with things, and would you believe it, that team ended up being the Yankees. Still a lot of season left though. Seven games is a nice lead but a guarantee of nothing. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Chris Young
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    LHP Chris Capuano

It was another disgustingly hot day in Arlington — not that the weather in New York has been any better — and the temperatures will again be in the 90s for tonight’s game. Gross. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET and for some reason the game will air on FOX Sports 1. Not YES, not WPIX, FOX Sports 1 only. Weird. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Diego Moreno was called up from Triple-A Scranton and Nick Goody was optioned down, the Yankees announced. Moreno had been working as a starter for the RailRiders — though he’s not yet stretched out beyond 55 pitches or so — and is better able to give length tonight if necessary.

Injury Update: Ivan Nova said he expects to throw his regular bullpen session and make his next start after leaving last night’s game with “arm fatigue.” Apparently he’s been told it’s common for a dead arm phase to follow Tommy John surgery.

Yanks send Branden Pinder and Diego Moreno to Triple-A

Pinder. (Presswire)
Pinder. (Presswire)

Following this afternoon’s win over the Phillies, the Yankees sent right-handers Branden Pinder and Diego Moreno to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. Stephen Drew will be activated off the paternity list to fill one spot. The other? That’s unclear at the moment.

Pinder, 26, has allowed three runs in 10.2 innings across multiple big league stints this year. Moreno, 27, allowed two runs in an inning today and threw a scoreless inning in his only other outing. Those two have been part of the bullpen revolving door the last few weeks.

The Yankees were carrying eight relievers and are now down to six with Chris Capuano and Bryan Mitchell capable of going multiple innings. (Mitchell gets to stay, interestingly.) Danny Burawa, Chris Martin, and Jose Ramirez are all on the 40-man roster but can’t be called back up yet because of the ten-day rule.

Joe Girardi has indicated the Yankees may carry a six-man bullpen while using a six-man rotation these next few days, so perhaps a position player is coming up. It can’t be Ramon Flores because of the ten-day rule. Maybe Gregorio Petit? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. Intrigue!

Game 70: Big Mike and the Phillies

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The Yankees open a three-game series with the punchless Phillies this evening — Philadelphia has baseball’s worst offense in terms of runs per game (3.10) and wRC+ (75) — and they’re sending Michael Pineda to the mound. Last time out Big Mike took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins. There is no such thing as a guaranteed win in baseball, but man, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel good going into this game.

Anyway, the Yankees got blown out by the Tigers on Sunday and that sucked. They had won four straight before that though, and this series with the Phillies is a great opportunity to shake off the blowout and pile up some wins. The Yankees have to take care of business this series. The Phillies are terrible and they need to beat teams like this to remain in the hunt in the AL East. The division is too close to give away series to bad teams. Here is Philadelphia’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Garrett Jones
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. LF Chris Young
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a gorgeous day in New York. Just perfect for baseball. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch live on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira is out of the lineup with a stiff neck. It’s been bothering him on and off for a week or so now. Teixeira went for an MRI today and Joe Girardi said he expects him to be back in the lineup in a day or two … Andrew Miller (forearm) will play catch on Wednesday.

Roster Update: In case you missed it earlier, Ivan Nova will start Wednesday and the Yankees will temporarily shift to a six-man rotation … as expected, both Nick Rumbelow and Diego Moreno were called up from Triple-A Scranton. Jose DePaula and Danny Burawa were sent down yesterday.

All-Star Update: MLB released the latest AL All-Star Game voting update today, and the good news is it is no longer Mike Trout and the Royals. Now it’s Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and the Royals. No Yankees are remotely close to the top spot for their positions. No non-Royals other than Trout and Cabrera are, basically.