Alfredo Aceves has been drawing plenty of comparisons to Ramiro Mendoza lately. While stylistically they are quite different, the possibilities for very similar usage are there. Let’s take a look at how Mendoza was used.
Mendoza was used as a spot starter, long reliever, and late inning specialist on a regular basis, filling all three roles for a manager who used him liberally. From 1997-2002, Mendoza broke 100 innings 4 times, including three seasons over 123 IP (’97-’99). He pitched in 278 games as a Yankee and started 57 of them. His ERA’s ranged from 3.25 to 4.29, solid numbers for a guy used in long relief. He did not strike a ton of guys out (5.3 K/9) but did not walk many either (2 BB/9) or allow many homers (.9 HR/9) and had a 1.3 WHIP. He also induced plenty of ground balls, making him a good fit for a situation with runners on base. All in all, he was an effective reliever whose versatility was his strongest attribute.
Old Sequoia divx Including minor league statistics, Aceves is already at 43 innings for the season. He has been with the MLB club for one month and notched 19.2 innings. If he remains in NY for the rest of the season under similar usage patterns, he should finish at about 120-125 IP, placing him firmly in Mendoza range and probably making him the league leader in IP for a reliever. The Yankees have not had a relief ace type in a while, as even Mendoza was lower down in the bullpen pecking order than Aceves is right now. Aceves walks more batters than Mendoza, but he also strikes more hitters out, and has a similar ability to avoid the home run. His WHIP thus far in the majors is a sparkling 1.08, and he has shown himself to have the bulldog mentality necessary to survive as a reliever in this league: he is not afraid to come after hitters, and pounds the strike zone with regularity. I am sure that he will go through a bad stretch and his numbers will probably move closer to those of Mendoza. For now, however, the Yankees need to determine how best to utilize Aceves, as he is their only non-Rivera reliever pitching well.
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