Tag: Brady Lail

An assortment of relievers [2019 Season Review]

Tarpley. (Keith Allison – CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the Yankees’ core tenets is a strong bullpen, as evidenced once again in 2019. But a strong bullpen isn’t just about the relief aces like Zack Britton or Chad Green (among others). Other pitchers play important roles too, even in blowouts and games that aren’t on the line. Today, I take a brief look at an array of pitchers who spent time on the Yankees’ major league roster this season. Most of these pitchers didn’t have much success on the mound, and many won’t be back in 2020, but they still played some role on this year’s club.

Jonathan Holder

After a strong 2018, the Yankees expected Holder to be an important piece of the bullpen. Not in terms of high leverage, but rather, holding the fort down in the middle innings. Unfortunately, he fell far short of his 3.14 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 66 innings a year ago.

Not only did Holder get sent down to Triple-A twice this year, but to add injury to insult, he finished the season on the injured list. The 26 year-old righty wasn’t horrible to start the year, but he certainly wasn’t anything special. By the end of May, he had a 4.55 ERA but a much better 3.07 FIP. Come June, things took a turn for the worst. He allowed six homers and 15 runs (13 earned) in eight innings before he was sent to Scranton.

The final straw came on June 24th, when Holder faced five batters and did not record an out. The big blow was Freddy Galvis’s grand slam. Holder was optioned after the game, returned for one appearance in July, and didn’t resurface in the Bronx again until August. But not long after, he hit the injured list with shoulder inflammation and missed the remainder of the season. There’s no indication that any portion of his 2020 season is in jeopardy.

Assuming he’s healthy, Holder will be in the mix for one of the last bullpen spots in spring training. He has one more minor league option remaining, so he could be an up-and-down relief arm once again if he can’t re-establish himself.

Stephen Tarpley

If you had me guess how many innings Tarpley threw for the Yankees this season, I would have guessed a dozen or so. Maybe it’s because the season has been over for a few months now, but my guess is far off. In fact, the lefty threw 24 2/3 frames for the Bombers this year. He was ineffective and finished the season with a 6.93 ERA and 5.69 FIP.

Tarpley’s big issue was the long ball. He’s been a ground ball pitcher for some time now, even garnering (unfair) comps to Zack Britton, but that was far from the case in 2019. He had just a 36.2 percent ground ball rate and surrendered six homers (2.2 per nine innings). This came on the heels of a 63.8 percent ground ball rate for Scranton this season.

Tarpley still has two more minor league options, so he still has time to work the kinks out. He’s had plenty of success in Triple-A, but it’s just not translated at the big league level. However, he may also be on the 40-man chopping block as we await the official announcements of Gerrit Cole and Brett Gardner.

Cory Gearrin

The Yankees claimed Gearrin off waivers from the Mariners near the end of August. Unexpectedly, he quickly became one of the team’s most oft-used relievers. The sidearmer appeared in 18 of the Yankees final 32 games of the regular season.

His usage was a little perplexing given his uninspiring results, but upon reflection, it makes sense. Not only did Aaron Boone say that the organization believed Gearrin had upside, but Gearrin also offered some relief (pun intended) for guys who had been worked hard like Adam Ottavino.

Gearrin’s a free agent, but there hasn’t been a peep about him in the rumor mill. Not that anyone would expect there to be. Chances are Gearrin receives a minor league deal for 2020, and your guess is as good as mine regarding with what team he’ll sign with.

Tyler Lyons

The Yankees picked up Lyons on a minor league contract in August after the Pirates released him earlier in the month. The former Cardinal was last an effective big league reliever in 2017 while he was still with St. Louis. Once rosters expanded in September, the Yankees gave the lefty a shot.

Lyons was decent in September and had eight scoreless outings in eleven total appearances. Similar to Gearrin, Lyons gave the Yankees another warm body to provide key relievers a breather. Surprisingly, Lyons earned a spot on the playoff roster and appeared in both the ALDS and ALCS. He retired all five batters he faced, including four strike outs, but the games he pitched were already out of hand.

The others

Longtime farmhand Brady Lail, the Yankees’ 18th-rounder in 2012, made a one game cameo in August before the Yankees’ designate him for assignment. He’s currently a minor league free agent…Jake Barrett appeared in two games for the Yankees before elbow inflammation ended his season. He too is a free agent…Same deal for southpaw Joe Mantiply, who was one-and-done for an August game and is now a free agent…the Yankees nabbed Ryan Dull, part of their run on scrapheap relievers, in mid-August off waivers. Dull last only lasted three games with the Bombers before the Blue Jays claimed him off waivers in September…Joe Harvey was a surprise addition to the 40-man entering 2019 and was decent in 10 innings for the Bombers (4.50 ERA). The Yankees traded him to the Rockies for Alfredo Garcia before the deadline.

Call-up Profiles: Adonis Rosa and Brady Lail

Rosa (MLB.tv)

Though they’ve both been sent down, the Yankees called up a pair of players who spent a lot of time in their system before making their Yankee debuts: Adonis Rosa and Brady Lail. As they each hold crucial 40-man spots right now, here’s a look at what Rosa and Lail bring to the table as well as how they got here.

Adonis Rosa

Rosa, 24, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 and made stateside debut in 2015. Though he has already been eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft, he’s stuck in the system and has gotten this opportunity after five years in the states.

He didn’t quite show it during his MLB debut, but the right-hander was rated as having “Best Control” in the Yankees’ system by Baseball America after the 2017 season. Still, he’s never been a top 30 Yankees prospect by BA or MLB.com despite the control and 80-grade name.

As you may have seen Tuesday, Rosa has a fastball that tops out in the low 90s while working in a curveball and slider. With a quick end to his motion that could deceive hitters, that may help the fastball play up as he got two swings and misses on it in his debut. The slider was his most effective pitch, getting three whiffs.

“I take away the experience,” Rosa said of his debut. “I take the experience of pitching at this level and knowing that if I was able to get those guys out, it lets me know I’m able to do this.”

(MLB.tv)

The right-hander hasn’t quite spent as much time as Lail in the leadup to his MLB debut, but he’s been a steady riser in the Yankees’ system. He made eight starts above Single-A in 2017-18 (six with Scranton) while finding success in the lower minors in and out of the rotation. In the lower Minors, he limited walks and home runs while getting an adequate number of strikeouts, sporting an ERA under 4.00 in all of his main assignments.

This season, the 24-year-old has pitched well while challenged in Trenton and Scranton. Weirdly, he has a better ERA (3.45) in Scranton with the MLB baseball than in Trenton (4.60), though his FIPs are essentially the reverse in nearly equal innings. Thanks to the home-run happy IL, his home run per nine innings reached one for the first time since 2015 in Pulaski. His strikeout rates have been generally around 20 percent while his walk rate in the mid-single digits outside of his Trenton stay.

Rosa has both started and worked following an opener, starting just nine times in 21 games. Still, he’s thrown 87.1 MiLB innings and has handled his assignment in the upper Minors well. He hadn’t allowed a home run in three straight Scranton starts before his call-up. He doesn’t keep the ball on the ground (he did, after all, give up a homer Tuesday), but he’s been dependable in 2019 anyway.

Brady Lail

Lail finally gets to wipe away the title of career Minor Leaguer after his 2 2/3 innings of work Monday evening. The right-hander has been in the Yankees’ system for the last eight years, selected in the 18th-round in 2012. Though drafted late, he got a $225,000 signing bonus to eschew a commitment to Arizona and sign out of high school.

That 2012 draft hasn’t produced all that much for the Bombers. Ty Hensley was the first-round pick, 30th overall, while second-round pick Peter O’Brien was first selection to make the Majors, albeit not with the Yankees. For the Bombers, Rob Refsnyder, Nick Goody and James Pazos made the show, while Corey Black, Caleb Frare and Dietrich Enns were traded, as were some of the above names.

That no one on the current roster is still around from that draft speaks to how long its been for Lail. It took him very little time to shoot up the Minors, reaching Triple-A for the first time in 2015, then still a starting pitcher.

However, Lail reached a barrier in Trenton and Scranton-WB. His strikeout rates dwindled while his walks went up, making his peripherals poor over time. He only made Baseball America’s top 30 for Yankees’ prospects once, ranking No. 22 in 2015 after he first reached Scranton.

“Evaluators both internally and externally praise Lail for his intelligence on the mound and pitchability. His arsenal starts with a fastball in the 88-92 mph range … He backs it up with a sharp curveball in the mid-70s as well as a changeup.”

Baseball America on lail in 2015

Lail has found a few more strikeouts after his move to the bullpen in 2018, though he’s still thrives off pitchability. He re-signed with the Yankees as a Minor League free agent after last season and made three appearances in Spring Training. This season, he’s had his highest ever K-BB rates since rookie ball in 2013, all without too many home runs considering the change in baseballs.

In his Major League debut, his fastball topped out at 93 mph on his first strikeout while he averaged 91.6 mph.

And he’s changed as a pitcher in the four years since that Baseball America evaluation. Of his 46 pitches on Monday night, 21 were fastballs while 19 were changeups, using that aforementioned curveball just once. The changeup got four swings and misses with the fastball forcing two.

Lail likely isn’t a long-term option for the Yankees and could be excised from the roster by Sept. 1, let alone the offseason. That doesn’t change the wonder of an MLB debut for someone who put in as much time as he did in the Minors, and makes Monday night quite special.

Game 120: Please, put the Orioles out of their misery

Embed from Getty Images

Another game against the Orioles, another shellacking. The Yankees bashed their way to a 11-8 victory against Baltimore, who mercifully have just two more games against the Bombers this year. Here are tonight’s takeaways:

Brett Gardner is still kicking

I must admit that I didn’t think Brett Gardner would be very good this season. He finished last year in a terrible rut, has a history of tailing off in the second half, and can’t hit lefties. And yet, Gardner is in the midst of a revival at 35 years of age.

Tonight, Gardy gave the Yankees an early lead with this:

Just like that, the Yankees were up 3-zip on Gardner’s triple. He’s now up to a 116 wRC+ this year, far better than anyone could have anticipated. Remember, he was supposed to be a role player. Instead, he’s been forced into playing nearly everyday because of the myriad of outfield injuries the Yankees have suffered.

How does anyone watch the Orioles?

Look, I love watching the Yankees win, but good grief is it difficult to watch the Orioles. They’re an embarrassment. I don’t think you needed tonight’s game to figure that out, but in case you needed a reminder, let’s dig in.

The Yankees plated their fourth run with plenty of help from Baltimore. With Breyvic Valera on second, O’s starter Ty Blach spiked a pitch that bounded away from Chance Cisco. It should have been a wild pitch, nothing more. Instead, Cisco decided to try and throw out Valera at third. Here’s what happened:

Of course that wasn’t the only fielding mishap. Earlier, Gardner’s triple was sort of a misplay by Anthony Santander:

(Baseball Savant)

I guess you could call it a valiant effort, but the odds of him ever catching that were incredibly slim. That should have been played to a double, not a triple, especially with just one out. Fortunately for him, Blach bailed him out and didn’t let Gardner score.

And then, you know, there’s the whole Gleyber Torres thing. He blasted his 13th dinger against the Birds this year. In case you aren’t keeping track, that’s half of his 26 homers this season.

Finally, FINALLY, they intentionally walked Torres in the eighth. Down five with runners on first and second and two outs, Baltimore gave him a free pass. Unconventional, sure. I’m not sure if that’s more or less embarrassing than Gleyber taking them deep one more time. It did work out though, as Gardner grounded out to end the jam.

Lastly, the Yankees basically disrespected the Orioles by throwing Joe Mantiply and Brady Lail out there. Nothing against either of those two, but obviously the Yankees weren’t concerned about outslugging the Orioles tonight.

Is it Orioles pitching, or is Gleyber’s core feeling better?

Whatever the answer may be, it’s good to see Torres raking like this after concern about his mysterious core injury. As mentioned, Gleyber blasted two more homers in the nightcap after hitting one in this afternoon’s affair. Again, half of his homers are against Baltimore this year! Just ridiculous how much he’s tormented them. Some numbers:

One record down, one more to go:

Decent chance the Iron Horse’s record doesn’t stand after this series ends, no? Unless they intentionally walk him every opportunity they get the rest of the way, of course. Tomorrow and Wednesday are the Yankees last two games vs. Baltimore this year.

One last thing on Gleyber: he did make a lackadaisical fielding play in the seventh inning by trying to play a would-be double play grounder off to his side. Mike Axisa touched on this over in his RAB Thoughts Patreon recently, and that play perfectly exemplified it. After that, the O’s struck for three runs on Hanser Alberto’s dinger.

To their credit, the Orioles made this interesting in the ninth

Mantiply and Lail did yeoman’s work in relief of Green. They combined for 5.2 innings and allowed 6 runs. On the surface, that sounds pretty crummy. But, Aaron Boone had to work his bullpen harder than he probably would have liked in game one of the doubleheader, so those two’s contribution didn’t go unnoticed.

The skipper certainly intended to have Nestor Cortes pitch the final two innings with a five run lead, but no dice. With the bases full and one out in the ninth, Boone called on Adam Ottavino for the save. Rio Ruiz greeted him with a two-run single to make it 11-8, but that was all the Orioles could muster. After that, Ottavino struck out Jonathan Villar and induced a fly out from Trey Mancini to end it.

It’s a little frustrating that Ottavino had to come in, to be honest. It was his 56th appearance of the season which puts him on pace for 75 outings this season. That’s too much. Fortunately, with this division lead, the Yankees can afford to utilize him less often down the stretch. Perhaps tonight would have been a good time to try and steal another two outs from Cortes, even at the risk of letting the Orioles creep even closer.

Leftovers:

  • Mike Ford hit his fourth homer of the season. The burly lefty hit it against Blach in the fourth inning to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead at the time.
  • Chad Green excelled in the opener role once again. He faced four batters and retired all of them, including one via strikeout. The Yankees are now 12-0 when using an opener this season.
  • Tonight was Lail’s major league debut. Though his pitching line wasn’t overly impressive, he did exactly what the Yankees needed. Nice story for a guy who was the Yankees’ 18th rounder in 2012.
  • Mantiply hadn’t pitched in the bigs since 2016. Although his results weren’t pretty, he got his first major league win. Good for him.

These two sides are back at it again tomorrow at 7:05 pm. Have a good night everyone.

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