Tag: Luis Avilan

The 40-man roster chopping block

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Before the Yankees can call up Clarke Schmidt or bring in a new player via trade, the front office will have to trim the 40-man roster. That could make for a relatively busy week depending on how active the Yankees are before next Monday’s trade deadline. That’s right, the deadline is just seven days from now.

The Yankees’ full 40-man roster has already been called out by the manager in recent days. In discussing Schmidt potentially joining the team’s rotation, Aaron Boone indicated that the team’s roster status complicates matters. Does that mean Schmidt would already be here if there was a 40-man opening? That’s not totally clear. In any case, the Yankees will have to make space for Schmidt or others in the near-term. Here’s a look at who could go:

Injury List Shuffle Candidates

Luis Severino and Tommy Kahnle are on the 60-day injured list and thus off the 40-man roster, but those two could be joined by others.

Luis Avilán just went on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, but if there’s something more serious going on there, he could be shifted to the 60-day and open a spot. Imaging revealed nothing more than the inflammation, however.

Kyle Higashioka’s is already eligible to return from the 10-day IL, but Boone noted nothing is imminent even though he’s making good progress. Any setback could land Higgy on the 60-day though. If and when Higashioka returns, Erik Kratz will almost certainly be DFA’d and removed from the 40.

If either Avilán or Higashioka hit the 60-day IL, they won’t be seen for the rest of the season. Boone seemed to have Avilán in his circle of trust, but the lefty wouldn’t be a huge absence if lost. Losing Higashioka would hurt more because catching depth is pivotal, even if Higgy isn’t necessarily anything too special.

Barring significant news, no one else on the 10-day IL is a candidate for shuffling off the roster. The Yankees need the likes of DJ LeMahieu, James Paxton, and Giancarlo Stanton (among others) to return this season.

Fringe relief arms

Jonathan Holder seems like a prime DFA candidate. Even though his changeup is somewhat intriguing, he’s maddeningly inconsistent and really hasn’t been effective since 2018. Holder has one minor league option remaining (and it has yet to be used this year). He is also arbitration eligible this offseason. The Yankees may be able to carry forward that option to next year, but Holder will get a raise in arbitration from his $750k salary (albeit nothing drastic), so it wouldn’t shock me to see him non-tendered this winter anyway. The Yankees could just decide to get that decision out of the way sooner.

After Holder comes Ben Heller, who the team really hasn’t given much of an opportunity yet. He’ll have one more minor league option remaining next season, but he could also be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason depending on how many days he spends in the majors in 2020. Do the Yankees want to pay him an increased (but still not big) salary for a reliever with hardly any big league experience? He could be non-tendered as well, so the Bombers could just get ahead of things here.

We’ve yet to see much of Brooks Kriske in 2020, who just joined the 40-man roster entering this season. I can’t imagine he’d be a straight DFA, but perhaps he could be traded like Joe Harvey last year. Remember, Harvey was a newbie on the 40-man, but the Yankees dealt him mid-season to clear space.

I mentioned Kriske as a small trade candidate, but Holder or Heller could fall in that boat as well. The Phillies desperately need bullpen help even after a few recent moves, so maybe they’d come calling to help relieve the Yankees’ 40-man jam.

Trade chips

There are a number of players that likely won’t factor as contributors in 2020 but currently take up space on the 40-man. Those include: Albert Abreu, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Miguel Yajure, and Estevan Florial. Now, we’ve see Abreu get in a game this year and Yajure on the major league roster, but neither are expected to play big roles. Either of those two along with the others could be included in a bigger trade to land help for the Yankees’ rotation or bullpen.

We should also throw in Nick Nelson and Deivi García here. Nelson has pitched a bit for the Yankees this season, but he’s not untouchable via trade. I threw him into a trade proposal last week (MTPS). As for Deivi: I don’t expect the Yankees to actively shop him. Teams will ask for him, though.

Down ballot candidates

Most of the Yankees’ position players are anchored to the 40-man. Only the catching situation and Florial appear to be potential opening opportunities. Otherwise, things look pretty set. Clint Frazier, oft-rumored in trades in the past, appears safe once again because of the team’s injury situation. Further, I don’t see the team selling low on Miguel Andújar. But there is one other rostered position player that’s trending downward: Mike Ford.

I don’t think it’s any secret that we have been Ford fans on this here blog, but I also wouldn’t rule him out in this roster crunch. He’s off to a slow start (.175/.227/.375, 58 wRC+) in 44 plate appearances. There’s no defensive versatility either. There are still a number of guys to cut before him, but he’s starting to play his way into the conversation.

Back to pitchers: what about JA Happ? Cutting him has probably crossed everyone’s mind. It’s almost certainly not going to happen, however. The Yankees seem to have a lot of (blind?) faith in Happ. Perhaps more importantly, pitchers are dropping like flies this year and it would probably behoove the team to keep him around as depth. He’d still get his 2020 salary on or off the team, anyway (aside: his vesting option would be voided upon release, for what it’s worth).

Injury Updates: Paxton, Torres, Avilán, and more

No day is complete without some Yankees’ injury news. Not since last year, at least. The Yankees placed three more players on the injured list this afternoon: James Paxton (grade 1 flexor strain), Gleyber Torres (grade 1 quad and hamstring strains), and Luis Avilán (shoulder inflammation).

Nobody’s prognosis is available yet, but I wouldn’t count on seeing Paxton or Gleyber soon. Between a shut down, resuming throwing, and building back up, it could be a few weeks until Paxton’s back assuming he’s pain free. As for Torres, it could be somewhat tricky given he strained two different muscles. We’ll see. It’s been a rough few days for the Yankees, so I’ll concede some pessimism might be shining through.

There aren’t any corresponding roster moves yet since this weekend’s series against the Mets has been postponed. The Yankees next game is Tuesday in Atlanta (though a doubleheader against the Mets on Monday has been floated) and we should find out about the replacements by then. I’d guess we see a couple of more arms and another middle infielder, perhaps the recently added Jordy Mercer.

In other news, Aaron Boone provided updates on a few players who are working to turn:

  • The team expects Aaron Judge to return once the Yankees play next, whether that’s Monday or Tuesday (Kristie Ackert)
  • DJ LeMahieu took dry swings and played catch for the first time today (Ackert)
  • The team will have workouts tomorrow and Sunday to stay fresh (Brendan Kuty)
  • Zack Britton played catch and ran on the field today. Boone anticipates a short injured list stint (Kuty)

Try to have a good weekend, everyone.

Game 22: So long Boston, we’ll miss you

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It’s too bad the Yankees don’t face the lowly Red Sox again until September. The Yankees completed a four game sweep against Boston at Yankee Stadium to improve to 16-6, 2.5 games ahead of the Rays in the division. Meanwhile, the Red Sox depart at 6-17 and their season all but over. The final in this one: 6-3.

Rain halts Jordan Montgomery’s best start of the season. A one hour and 23 minute rain delay cost Monty a chance to get a win in this one. The delay came with two outs in the fourth, which turned out to be the end of Montgomery’s evening. In sum, the lefty threw 3 2/3 innings, struck out four, and allowed just one run (that he probably shouldn’t have, more on that below). Montgomery had just about everything working. He was throwing hard, missing bats, locating his pitches, and generating a lot of weak contact.

It sure looks like the lefty’s velocity uptick is here to stay. Montgomery averaged 92.9 MPH on his fastball and topped out at 94.1 on the evening. His sinker sat 92.7 and touched 93.8. That’s not overpowering in today’s sense, but it’s very good for Monty. Considering how well he spotted his pitches today, that velo really did him wonders.

Save for a couple sinkers down the middle (both taken for strikes), Monty lived on the edges this evening. That’ll do.

Monty also had good feel for his curve and changeup in this one, which worked well off his fastball/sinker. He got nine whiffs on 27 swings, and when the Red Sox did make contact, it wasn’t well struck. Boston’s average exit velocity was a paltry 77.8 MPH on the evening.

That’s a lot of blue. Soft contact has become Montgomery’s forte this year, by the way. Entering tonight:

  • Exit Velocity: 96th percentile
  • Hard Hit %: 68th percentile
  • Barrel %: 74th percentile

That’s great stuff. Even with a little more hump on his fastball this season, Montgomery isn’t going to be a strikeout pitcher. He’ll need to limit hard contact to maintain success, and so far, so good. I just wish we got to see him go a little deeper in this one.

Nerdy stuff aside, Montgomery really got into a groove after the Torres error in the first. He recorded eleven straight outs thereafter up until back-to-back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth. Then mother nature came calling.

Bats and B-List relievers keep A-listers fresh for Tampa Bay series. Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, and Zack Britton didn’t have to warm up for this one. That’s big going into an important series against the Rays tomorrow, who were off today and will have a fresh bullpen themselves. Aroldis Chapman wrapped this one up, but he was expected to get into this game regardless of the score. It’s his first game back from the COVID-19 injured list, after all.

The offense took care of business pretty early. Part of it was a self inflicted wound by Boston starter Martín Pérez, though. With two outs in the second, he pegged ninth hitter Tyler Wade. You just can’t let Wade reach base like that and the top of the order made him pay. Hicks ripped a double to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Then came Luke Voit:

That wasn’t his only longball of the day. The first baseman also did this in the fifth:

Those were Voit’s sixth and seventh homers of the year. Thairo Estrada delivered one of his own between those two Voit dingers, by the way.

Aaron Hicks added one for good measure.

Enough about the homer parade, how about the bullpen work of Luis Avilán and Michael King? Avilán came into this one with two on and two out in the fourth as play resumed after the rain delay. He worked out of trouble and then pitched a clean fifth inning. Avilán has been sneaky good thus far: he’s got a 2.25 ERA in eight innings.

King came in after Avilán. It was his first appearance since August 8th, but King didn’t show any rust. He threw three innings, allowed just one run, and struck out two. That one run probably shouldn’t have happened, by the way. Miguel Andújar couldn’t track down what turned into a ground rule RBI double by Alex Verdugo in the sixth. Anyway, King was given the win for this one, his first of his career. Congrats to him.

Again, this was a clutch performance from Avilán, King, and the offense. Aaron Boone should be able to use Green, Ottavino, and Britton often in this upcoming series.

We have to talk about Gleyber Torres’s defense. Although things have started to come around offensively, Gleyber’s defense has been another story this season. In short, it hasn’t been very good. Tonight, Torres made two throwing errors. He now has six on the season, second to Boston’s Rafael Devers who has 8. Gleyber also couldn’t haul in a Christian Vázquez bloop single in the fourth inning that arguably should have been caught.

Tonight’s game started with his first error. Kevin Pillar hit a routine grounder to short, but Torres couldn’t convert it into an out. His throw to first pulled Luke Voit off the bag toward home plate. Per Statcast, that grounder had an expected batting average of .050. Pillar is a good runner, so perhaps that put some pressure on Gleyber to make a good throw. In any case, it’s a play Torres has to make. The good news is that Montgomery worked around that error to pitch a scoreless first, including a 6-4-3 double play turned by Torres and Tyler Wade.

Moving on to the Vázquez single, which cut the Yankees lead to 3-1 at the time. Let’s take a look:

Torres seemed to have a quick first step, but then slowed down and took a circuitous route to the landing spot. He got his glove on it but couldn’t haul it in. Look, I’m not saying that this is an easy play, but it’s one he probably should have made. If you didn’t notice his odd route to the ball on video, you can get a better sense of it from Statcast below:

Statcast also has that batted ball at an expected batting average of .580, but that may be somewhat misleading. Namely, Statcast only considers launch angle and exit velocity. In other words, it treats that blooper’s hit probability the same as if it was hit down the right field line.

Torres wasn’t done there though. He made another throwing error in the top of the top of the fifth inning. This time, it was a grounder off of José Peraza’s bat. Peraza is very fast — 87th percentile in sprint speed — but this was yet another routine grounder that should have been an out.

In fairness to Gleyber, he is just 23 and this is his first (sort of) full season at shortstop at the big league level. I’m a little more willing to give him a pass on the blooper, but he needs to be more consistent on routine plays.

Leftovers

  • This was the Yankees’ fourth rain delay of the season. It clocked in at one hour and 23 minutes.
  • Interesting game for Miguel Andújar, who’s back with the team with DJ LeMahieu on the injured list. He *just* missed a grand slam in his first at-bat: he hit a 381 foot flyout to end the first inning. Later, he scorched a line drive right at Peraza. Nice to see some good swings from Miggy. Now, for the not so good. I touched on this earlier, but he took an awkward route on a very catchable fly ball hit by Verdugo to left field in the sixth. But instead of hauling it in, it landed for a ground rule double. Andújar is very new to left field, so we’ll cut him some slack here. Mike Tauchman came in as a defensive replacement later.
  • To add to Gleyber’s rough night in the field, he also got picked off first base in the seventh inning by Sox catcher Christian Vázquez. At least it didn’t take the defense and baserunning to the plate. He reached base via walk twice tonight.
  • Aroldis Chapman looked good in the ninth despite allowing a run. His fastball reached 100 MPH four times.

Up next: the Rays for three games in the Bronx. Should be a good one. See you tomorrow.

Game 11: Worth the wait

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A long day of baseball has come and gone. Game one’s loss was frustrating, especially after watching 6 1/2 innings of bad baseball only to see a late rally come up short. This evening’s nightcap was particularly satisfying after game one, however. Sure, Aaron Nola mowed down the lineup, but the elite Yankees’ bullpen did its job to keep things in check. Once the Bombers finally got Nola out of the game, the Yankees struck for a couple of runs to win this one, 3-1. Let’s get to the details.

Loaisiga does his usual thing

This was yet another hot-and-cold outing for Loaisiga. Overall, he’s pitched well this season, but he’s had some frustrating moments. Tonight was no different.

The first inning was a bit of a slog for him, though he escaped unscathed. The good: a dominant, three pitch strikeout against Bryce Harper with runners on first and second and nobody out. The meh: it took him 26 pitches to complete the inning. The only two base runners were via infield single and walk, so it’s not like he got smacked around, but there were a bunch of long at-bats aside from Harper’s. Of those 26 pitches, the Phils swung 14 times, including two whiffs and 14 foul balls.

The second inning was annoying. Loaisiga has a tendnecy, at least anecdotally, to finish things off. The third strike or third out can be elusive for him at times, and this inning was a prime example. He got two quick outs to start the frame: Jay Bruce grounded out and Scott Kingery fanned swinging. That’s when the two out rally began. Neil Walker ripped a double down the right field line. After that, Loaisiga got to 0-2 on light hitting Andrew Knapp, but couldn’t put him away:

Was that a bad pitch, per se? No. A fastball up-and-in at 97 miles per hour blooped for a hit is a bit of tough luck. But perhaps Loaisiga could have tried to get Knapp to chase. I’m probably nitpicking a bit here, in fairness. That was all the damage Loaisiga allowed tonight, anyway.

To start the third inning, Loaisiga showed what potentially makes him so darn special:

Hoskins is not a guy who strikes out on three pitches often. In fact, he led the league in pitches per plate appearances last season. Of course, Loaisiga took a step back the next batter and hit Bryce Harper with a (literal) backfoot breaking ball. At 51 pitches, that was the end of Loaisiga’s night. In sum: 2 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 hit by pitch, and 3 strikeouts. Not bad by any stretch, but it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Nola stymies Yankees offense

It’s not often that a lineup like the Yankees’ has to tip its cap to the opposing starter, but tonight was one of those nights. Aaron Nola was on his A-game and carved up the Yankees’ offense, save for one bad pitch to Luke Voit. And yes, I know a few Yankees hitters are struggling (Gleyber Torres, Gary Sánchez, and Miguel Andújar in particular), but that’s no matter given how good Nola looked.

Nola faced 21 batters in six innings and struck out 12 (57.1 percent). He didn’t walk anyone and allowed just three hits, and really only two of them were well-struck. Nola struck out every single Yankee in the lineup except DJ LeMahieu (because of course). And perhaps unsurprisingly given how they’ve hit lately, Gary and Gleyber combined to go 0-for-5 with 5 strikeouts against Nola.

How’d he dominate? By keeping his breaking ball and changeup down while featuring his fastball upstairs. Take a look:

There’s almost no blue (curveball) or green (changeup) above the knees per that graphic. You see that one mini pie chart with the blue and green down the middle and thigh high? That’s where he threw Voit and hanger. Here’s what happened:

A classic hanger. That was one of two hard hit balls (per Statcast) against Nola. The other was an Aaron Judge single.

The bullpen holds down the fort

When you have someone like Nola dealing for the opponent, it’s pivotal that the pitching staff keeps the game within reach. That’s exactly what the Yankees’ relievers did. After Loaisiga exited, Luis Avilán, Chad Green, and Adam Ottavino didn’t allow a single baserunner as the bridge to interim closer Zack Britton.

Aaron Boone deployed the lefty Avilán at a good time — maybe even one batter too late. Perhaps he should have faced Harper instead of Loaisiga, but it didn’t matter. With Harper on and one out, the southpaw induced a popout from lefty swinging Didi Gregorius and then fanned righty Jean Segura. Avilán came out to start the fourth inning against another lefty, Jay Bruce, and got the job done again with a strikeout.

It’s a little weird to have someone like Avilán on the roster nowadays, particularly as a lefty specialist type given the three batter minimum rule. However, it’s a bit easier to justify with expanded rosters. It’s also sometimes worth the risk of facing one righty between a handful of lefties when you do things like this:

After Avilán, Boone summoned Chad Green. Green is good. He faced seven batters, retired all of ’em, and struck out two in the process. It only took him 21 pitches to do so. For whatever reason, Boone replaced him with Adam Ottavino to face Jean Segura to finish up the sixth inning. Otto got the job done, but Green was cruising. No harm, no foul at least.

After the Yankees took the lead in the top of the seventh (more on that in a moment), Britton continued the bullpen’s dominance. He threw a 1-2-3 frame to notch his fifth save of the season. In all, after Loaisiga’s exit, Yankees’ pitchers retired all 14 Phillies batters.

Happy to see the Phillies’ bullpen

Just like game one, when the Yankees almost came back after Zack Wheeler’s night was done after six innings, the Bombers’ offense came to life once Nola was out of this one. Could Nola have gone one more frame with just 88 pitches through six? Probably, but it’s early in the (short) season and pitchers have been dropping like flies anyway. Perhaps it just wasn’t worth the risk.

Anyway, Boone went to Tommy Hunter for the seventh inning and it didn’t take long for the Yankees to get things going. Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. Mike Tauchman, who got the start over Aaron Hicks, delivered in the clutch:

That gave the Yankees’ a 2-1 lead. Scary moment immediately after that at-bat, though. Hunter drilled Gary Sánchez with a 90 MPH sinker directly on the elbow. That’s the last thing a slumping Gary needed. Fortunately, he remained in the game but that ball will leave a mark. So, with the bases loaded, up came Gio Urshela who delivered a single to make it 3-1. Was anyone shocked to see him come through? Just look at what he’s done with the bases full since joining the Yankees, tonight included:

Last year’s next men up are still delivering in 2020.

Philadelphia’s Adam Morgan managed to escape without any further trouble, but that was all the Yankees’ needed. 3-1 was the final score.

Leftovers

  • With Voit’s homer, the Yankees have homered in each of the team’s 11 games to start the season, a franchise record.
  • Phillies’ closer Hector Neris, who was forced pitched in game one during the Yankees’ failed comeback, was presumably unavailable tonight. That certainly came in handy when the Yankees rallied in the seventh.
  • Tonight was just the second game this season that DJ LeMahieu went hitless.

The Yankees have one more in Philadelphia tomorrow evening. Jordan Montgomery and Zach Eflin are the pitchers. Have a good night everyone.

Spring Training Competition: Back of the Bullpen

As Bobby noted in his 26-man roster projection yesterday, expect the Yankees to carry eight relievers to start the regular season. Six of those eight spots are pretty well set barring injury, leaving two openings up for grabs. Here’s how things shake out:

  1. Aroldis Chapman
  2. Zack Britton
  3. Chad Green
  4. Adam Ottavino
  5. Tommy Kahnle
  6. Luis Cessa
  7. ???
  8. ???

Bobby predicted that Jonathans Holder and Loáisiga will travel north come opening day. Let’s take a look at those two’s candidacies along with the rest in competition.

The favorites

Not only is Loáisiga in the mix here, but he’s also an option for the fifth starter role. The 25 year-old’s stuff will play regardless of role, though his durability and control seem to make relief more sensible. One more thing that may be construed as telling for Loáisiga’s status was that Aaron Boone called him on in relief in the 10th inning of Game 2 of the 2019 ALCS with the score tied. Basically, all Boone had left was Cessa, Loáisiga, and JA Happ. That Loáisiga was above Cessa in the pecking order in that situation could be an indicator of his status, especially with Cessa all but a lock in this year’s bullpen.

Next is Holder, who had a rough 2019. Ineffectiveness eventually resulted in a demotion to Triple-A, and later, he ended the year on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation. It was a big step back from his prior two years during which the 26 year-old righty pitched 105 1/3 innings and posted a 3.42 ERA and 3.25 FIP.

After a down season ended with injury, it seemed like Holder was on the 40-man chopping block. Instead, the Yankees kept the first-time arbitration eligible reliever and settled for $750,000. Considering that vote of confidence and past success in the big leagues, Holder figures to be a very strong candidate for one of the last two spots. One thing that could go against him is that he still has a minor league option remaining, though so do a number of others discussed in this post.

Non-roster invitees who could fit as a longman

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It’s pretty clear that the front office is a fan of David Hale, who’s back again this year as a non-roster invitee. He’s been with the organization since 2018 and was quite effective in the big leagues last year. In 20 games and 37 2/3 innings, Hale recorded a 3.11 ERA and 3.32 FIP. Unfortunately, he went on the injured list with a lumbar spine strain at the end of July and didn’t return.

Bettis came aboard over the weekend. Before joining the Yankees, Bettis mostly worked as a starter for the Rockies (except 2019). He hasn’t been very good since 2015 or 2016. That said, his 60.8 percent ground ball rate last season is intriguing. Bettis also might be someone who would thrive by throwing more curveballs. Last year, he threw his yakker just 12 percent of the time in spite of an exception whiff rate (40.1 percent) and high spin (2,539 RPM).

Both Hale and Bettis can provide length in relief should they need it. We know Bettis has spent a good deal of his career in the rotation, meaning that he’s used to being stretched out. Meanwhile, Hale has also started quite a bit. Hale has made 18 starts for Scranton since 2018.

I suppose Cessa is the true long man on the roster at the moment, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be two especially in April when managers tend to be more careful with starters.

Prospects on the 40-man in the running

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If ZiPS had its say, Ben Heller (projected 108 ERA+) and Brooks Kriske (101 ERA+) would be in the Yankees’ bullpen coming opening day. Nonetheless, the odds of either righties making it don’t seem great, though I wouldn’t say that they’re longshots either.

Heller, who missed all of 2018 because of Tommy John Surgery, finally made it back toward the end of last season. He was dominant in 11 Triple-A innings (0.82 ERA) and 7 1/3 major league frames (1.23 ERA). This is really the first time the 28 year-old has been in position to get an extended major league look. He’s not all that different from Holder, who I noted as a favorite, but Heller may need a little more game action in Triple-A.

Kriske, 26, is new to the 40-man roster. He was downright fantastic in 60 2/3 minor league innings last season (split between High-A and Double-A). The righty struck out 80 batters while posting a 2.08 ERA and 2.69 FIP. Never say never, but Kriske will probably get a look at Triple-A hitters before getting to the majors.

Unlikely Non-roster invitees

The new three batter minimum rule is going to make it tough on Luis Avilán and Tyler Lyons. Both are pretty classic lefty specialists whose values have been hurt by MLB’s rule change. I just can’t imagine the Yankees going north with either of them.

Dan Otero, Tony Zych, and Domingo Acevedo are also in camp as NRIs, but with slim odds of wearing pinstripes. Otero’s been pretty bad in each of the last two seasons in Cleveland. He doesn’t miss bats and gives up a ton of homers. Zych hasn’t pitched since 2017 and has been hurt quite a lot in his career. Finally, the Yankees surprisingly invited Acevedo to camp. Once one of the Yankees’ better prospects, Acevedo has fallen from grace as stuff has diminished. The Yankees actually pulled a release-and-sign with him last summer to make room on the 40-man roster. Hard to picture him with the Yankees unless he regains his stuff.


As I noted in the favorites and as Bobby predicted, Holder and Loáisiga are the early frontrunners. That said, there are a number of permutations these last two spots can take, unexpected injuries aside.

Heller and/or Kriske could be deemed as better middle relief options than Holder. The Yankees are pretty set from the sixth inning on in relief, so it really could just come down to who has the best spring training here.

I also could see Hale winning a spot over Loáisiga. And not necessarily because Loáisiga isn’t deserving, but rather, because the Yankees may want to give him another shot as a starter and thereby keep him stretched out in Scranton. Plus, Hale was pretty good last season and has obviously had fans in the organization for a few years.

Regardless of the outcome, we’ll probably see quite a bit of shuffling with these last two spots as long as the bullpen is at full strength. Being on the opening day roster is neat and all, but it’s more ceremonial than anything. In all likelihood, it’ll be another season of the ol’ Scranton Shuttle getting its run.

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