The banged-up Yankee roster had to resort to using Javier Vazquez as a long reliever last night. I actually give Joe Girardi a lot of credit for foresight – he skipped Javier in the rotation in part to take a start away from his worst starting pitcher, but also in part to allow the team to use their 5th starter as a long man while Sergio Mitre recovered from his spot start. However, he appeared only after the Yankee bullpen blew yet another lead. After Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, and Sergio Mitre, the Yankee bullpen has been a disaster this season.
I definitely expected the group of David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Chan Ho Park, Damaso Marte, and Joba Chamberlain to be an effective bridge to Mariano Rivera. Instead, they have been a glaring weakness on an overall strong team. With injuries to key players, including the effective Aceves, the Yankees can’t afford to let their bullpen plod along all season in the middle innings. They have replacement options, and would be stupid not to use them.
Boone Logan has been a complete and utter failure this season. Joe Girardi’s desire to have a second left-handed pitcher for strategic purposes has led him to hold on to a player that should never have been, and should never be, a part of a major league contending team’s bullpen. He has proven time and again to be a terrible pitcher who is incapable of getting hitters out. Left-handed batters are getting on base 50% of the time this season against him. Boone Logan should be immediately optioned down, or outright released, and replaced by a member of the Yankee Triple-A bullpen.
Who should replace Logan? Mark Melancon. Melancon has never been given any kind of extended shot at a regular major league role, despite great stuff and plenty of Triple-A success. Melancon’s line this season? 15 appearances, 23 innings, 12.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 2.74 ERA. He no longer belongs at that level, and should already be in the majors. The Yankees have been reluctant to promote Melancon permanently for whatever reason, and it has cost them.
Furthermore, the Yankees should temporarily start changing the roles of Sergio Mitre and Chan Ho Park. I’m willing to give CHoP a pass for tonight after coming off the DL, but overall he has yet to prove he can consistently pitch at a high level. He has however proven that he can provide the Yankees innings, which sets him up perfectly for the long relief role. Sergio Mitre is one of the few Yankee relievers actually getting hitters out right now, and should be used in shorter, higher-leverage situations until Alfredo Aceves returns, he starts to pitch poorly, or CHoP proves himself able to pitch well.
Sergio Mitre needs to be pushed into a short relief role because David Robertson can’t seem to handle it this season. He seems to have lost some of his magic, and has proven easily hittable. His walk rate has skyrocketed, and his pitch counts have gone up with it. Something is seriously wrong with Robertson, but he keeps being pushed into important situations out of necessity. Robertson needs to get himself straightened out, but right now the Yankee roster situation doesn’t allow the team to carry a project. If one of Melancon, CHoP, or Robertson himself doesn’t settle in to an effective setup role in the next week or two, the Yankees need to let Robertson get straightened out where he is supposed to get straightened out: Scranton.
Who should replace Robertson? Jon Albaladejo. Albaladejo has the quietest 1.49 career ERA at Triple-A ever. He has absolutely dominated the level, and continues to do so this year. In 18 1/3 innings, he has 21 strikeouts and 7 walks. This is after posting a year after posting a 0.8 BB/9 for Scranton. I’ve always been a huge Robertson fan, and continue to be confident in his future, but it is ridiculous to allow one guy to blow games in the majors while you have a young prospect dominating Triple-A like Albaladejo is. All it costs is an option.
Joe Girardi is so much better than Joe Torre that I almost feel guilty complaining about the decisions he makes with his bullpen. I really hate to think about how beat up Alfredo Aceves’ arm would be if Torre was still manager. But his use of Boone Logan and David Robertson this season in key situations has been borderline inexcusable. With the Yankees chasing what seems like an unbeatable Rays team, he can’t afford to keep making the same dumb decisions. The Yankees need to use the options that they have.
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