With Andrew Miller out for the next two weeks with a forearm injury, it seems as if the New York Yankees are going to be forced into some changes in order to maintain the current streak that they have been enduring.The first area that will need to be addressed is the closer slot. Andrew Miller is down, but the Yankees are not out. Joe Girardi is currently looking like one of the smartest managers in baseball right now, because if anyone remembers, back in spring training we were told that Miller and Dellin Betances would be co-closers. Now that one of them is on the disabled list, the other can step up.
Though having only converted two saves this season, and acting primarily as the setup man, Betances has been lights out. Pitching to an 0.28 ERA over the course of 32.1 innings pitched, Betances has been the Yankees best reliever thus far, and having closed over the course of this season, as well as in the past, it should not be a problem for him to step into the role.
Now, with Betances established as the closer, who sets him up? To me, the only option seems to be Chasen Shreve whether you like it or not. To eliminate the other options, Esmil Rogers isn’t capable of pitching anymore, Jacob Lindgren is too fresh and too recently called up to be put in a position such as this, Chris Capuano is needed as a long reliever, and Justin Wilson has been inconsistent at times, though he could be in contention after his recent form.
After trading away Manny Banuelos in the offseason to the Atlanta Braves for Shreve and now designated-for-assignment reliever David Carpenter, Shreve has been a revelation for the streaking Yankees.
At the age of 24, Shreve has hardly taken a wrong step on the mound as he has accumulated a 2.16 ERA, only giving up 6 ER over 25.0 innings pitched this season. With the last run he gave up being on the 22nd of May (he has had eight appearances since, and has not surrendered a run), Shreve has been a force in the Yankee bullpen and is more than deserving of this role.
Because of Miller going down, a new problem arises.
With Esmil Rogers, and at times Chris Capuano, looking like weak links in the Yankees bullpen, change will need to come. The Yankees have a few options when it comes to this. Firstly, they could call up recently signed Sergio Santos. Santos, 31, posted a mediocre 4.73 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season before being let go of, but in 2013, when he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, Santos posted a 1.75 ERA over 25.2 innings pitched. All of that recent history going together with a groundball percentage of 44% makes Santos an ideal Yankee Stadium pitcher.
The other option for the Yankees is to search in-house and find Bryan Mitchell, a 24-year-old relief pitcher currently playing in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Thus far this season, Mitchell has proven more than capable, posting a 2.82 ERA over 60.2 innings pitched, while still having not allowed a home run off of him.
Last year, when Mitchell was pitching for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, he was called up to the big leagues by the Yankees for three appearances and he impressed thoroughly. In his lone start, against the Baltimore Orioles, Mitchell pitched five strong innings, striking out two while also allowing 2 ER. In is two other appearances, he was utilized as a long reliever as he went four innings long out of the bullpen against the Boston Red Sox, only allowing one run, and then going two innings long against the Cleveland Indians, not allowing an earned run.
Mitchell’s experience as a long reliever, as well as success in the majors albeit a small sample size, should making him the ideal call up for New York.
If the bullpen shapes out to be Justin Wilson, Jacob Lindgren, Chris Capuano, and Bryan Mitchell/Sergio Santos with Chasen Shreve setting things up for Dellin Betances, I don’t seem the Yankees losing very much momentum, but Miller does pose as a big blow if in fact these 15 days aren’t enough for him to rehabilitate his forearm injury.