After last night’s eighth inning implosion, the state of the bullpen is the issue on the minds of most Yankees fans. Before anyone mentions Joba Chamberlain, I want to preempt that by pointing out the atrocious starting pitching in the first two games against Boston. Forget about the point that a starter is more valuable than a reliever, or that sticking him in the bullpen would stunt his development. Right now, the rotation actually needs Joba more than the bullpen does.
With that out of the way, we can look at the bullpen and examine what needs to be done. Firstly, the Yankees need Brian Bruney, and to a lesser extent Damaso Marte, to return from injury and pitch well. Bruney has a career ERA under 3.00 with the Yankees, so I have no reason to believe that he cannot handle the 8th inning once he returns. Here is Newsday’s Erik Boland with more on Bruney:
Brian Bruney took the next step in his rehab Thursday afternoon when he threw 25 pitches to live hitters in the batting cage and felt no pain.
It was another positive development, one that Joe Girardi said will probably have the righthander pitching for Double-A Trenton tomorrow (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is on the road Saturday).
The Burning movie If that goes well, Bruney could rejoin the Yankees as early as Tuesday, though Girardi said the team is still being cautious with Bruney, who has been on the DL twice this season with pain in his right elbow.
Marte is still 2-3 weeks away, but his return will be almost as vital, giving Girardi another lefty that he can use to play matchups with. As I noted a few weeks ago, Marte has had a very good career, and his last two seasons in NY have been marred by injury. He should be an important piece in the bullpen mix.
Finally, the Yankees could always look to the trade market. Ken Rosenthal mentioned some possibilities this morning (h/t RAB):
The Yankees, in dire need of a setup man, eventually will target the best available late-inning relievers — the Rockies’ Huston Street, Diamondbacks’ Chad Qualls and Astros’ Jose Valverde. In fact, they already have expressed interest in Street, according to major-league sources.
Quite frankly, the only one I would touch is Street, and he is likely to come with a hefty price tag. If it would cost the Yankees Zach McCallister, would you make that deal?
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