The Yankee bullpen is pretty atrocious right now, despite another vintage season from 40-year old Mariano Rivera. So how do the Yankees fix it?
Well, if you remember back to 2009, the Yankees bullpen was terrible in the first half too. Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras were key players then, but the Yankees retooled from their system, calling up David Robertson and moving Phil Hughes to the pen. It worked and the Yankee bullpen was a strength by midseason.
The blueprint should be similar this season. Obviously there is no Phil Hughes to put in the pen this year, but the Yankees do have options.
Current Pitchers Who Should Get Better
I say this not to restart the inane “starter vs reliever” debate. But part of me wonders if Joba shouldn’t go down the Triple-A and start. He needs to get his innings up and he clearly needs work. Joba’s peripherals suggest that he should be better than he has been but at some point we need to see the results.
Robertson has the stuff but his control can be erratic. I would expect that Girardi will keep giving him chances – just maybe not in critical spots.
Minor League Relievers
Albaladejo hasn’t been great when he’s pitched in the big leagues before, but he’s pitching very well at Scranton and might be worth a try.
Melancon has been pretty terrible for the Yankees when called up, but he’s still young and has the tools and makeup to be an effective reliever. He likely needs to some reps at the big league level, but obviously it’s hard for a team like the Yankees to find those innings.
Minor League Starters
Ivan Nova and Romulo Sanchez
I’m lumping these guys together because they’re in very similar situations: both are on the 40-man and have looked decent in limited action with the Yankees. They also both have live arms that could be pretty effective if converted to the bullpen. Such a move would hurt Scranton’s rotation depth though.
Coming Back From Injury
Aceves has always been a bigger cog in the Yankee bullpen machine than people give him credit for. He’s not really the answer as the shutdown 8th inning guy, but he can serve almost any role in a pinch and he throws strikes.
I’m not sure if the Yankees even know what they have in Mitre. His splits suggest he’s tougher on righties though the Yankees have been using him as a long man and spot starter. Would he be better in shorter stints?
Now or Never
Chan Ho Park
Park has been pretty much awful. Unless he turns it around soon, you’d have to expect he’ll go the way of Randy Winn. My bet is an NL team would be willing to pick up his salary.
Clearly the Yankees have a lot of options here and I haven’t even mentioned Dustin Moseley who was recently called up. History shows that trading for a reliever is extremely risky, so it makes more sense for the Yankees to keep trying the options they already do have and find a configuration that works. Personally, I think Aceves’ return will be big for the Yankees, as well as Joba’s development (obviously). I would like to see either Nova, Sanchez, or Melancon get another chance at some point as well.