Friday, July 10, 2009

Bullpen Help Coming

As we noted in yesterday's recap, Joe Girardi burned through five of his seven relievers yesterday - but boy, he sure matched up well in doing so. Trotting out a spot starter with a 65 pitch limit is a recipe for a long day for the bullpen, but needing five pitchers to cover 5.2 innings seems a bit much to me.

Regardless, the Yanks head to Anaheim tonight and send Joba Chamberlain to the hill. Chamberlain has averaged less than five and a third innings over his last six starts and has needed an unmanageable 17.3 pitches per IP this year. So this isn't exactly the best night to be carrying a fatigued bullpen, particularly when the only rested pitchers in the pen are a struggling Brian Bruney and a Brett Tomko-like Brett Tomko. I didn't think it was possible to be short on arms with a seven man pen, but apparently it is.

To that end, Girardi hinted during yesterday's post-game that an arm might be on the way. Last night, indespensible Scranton beat writer Chad Jennings reported that Mark Melancon will rejoin the Yankees today (h/t RAB).

Melancon was up briefly earlier this year, making four appearances covering 3.1 IP. He wasn't good, allowing two hits, five walks, and two earned runs. In his final outing he walked all three batters he faced. That said, this move is long overdue. Melancon has been dominating the International League, with a 2.50 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 39.2 IP. His K/9 is 9.5 while his BB/9 is just 2.0.

Unfortunately the pitcher who should go is one of the few fresh arms in today's pen, so Tomko gets yet another stay of execution. Jonathan Albaladejo and David Robertson both have options, so they would seem likely candidates for demotion.

However, between his 43 pitches Sunday and his 65 yesterday, Alfredo Aceves is spent until after the All-Star break. He too has options. While his performance certainly warrants continued presence on the Major League roster, he may be the best choice to farm out at present. Whoever is optioned out will have to stay down for at least ten days. Aceves is spent for the next three, then comes the three day All-Star break, followed by an off day next Thursday. Sending Aceves down will really only cost the Yankees his presence for three games while keeping the bullpen at full strength for this weekend's series. Plus, it looks increasingly likely that Aceves will be the new fifth starter. Sending him down today will allow him to make another minor league start or two to build endurance before the Yankees need him on the 21st.

We'll update on you the official move once it happens, which likely won't be until just before game time.


  1. I was surprised to see that Melancon's last tenure was so short and relatively unsuccessful. I remembered it being a little better. Hopefully he sticks this time around.

  2. Such are the dangers of small sample sizes. He wasn't all that bad. You can check his gamelogs here

    In short, he was very good in first two outings and very bad in his last two.

    I agree with you - I hope he sticks for good now. Someone (I forget who) suggested that Melancon's mechanics, history, and usage make him a candidate for another arm injury. The guy is ready. Time to get while the getting is still good.