The news of the day yesterday was that Yankees interim closer David Robertson had been place on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle. The 27-year-old had made four appearances in the ninth inning since Mariano Rivera went down on May 3rd, and with the exception of his May 9th implosion, Robertson has held opponent scoreless on the season.
Interestingly enough, though, the man called up to replace Robertson was not DJ Mitchell or one of the Yankees more accomplished high minor league arms, but Cody Eppley. Eppley, 26, was largely an unknown heading into the 2012 season. First mentioned on this site back in April as just a name on a 40-man roster, half of Eppley’s Wikipedia page details his time with the Yankees. That time has been brief, as Eppley spent the first four years of his professional career in the Texas Rangers system.
A 43rd round pick back in 2008, Eppley was a reliever at Virginia Commonwealth University who had been undrafted out of high school. With a weird three-quarters delivery, a high-80s to low-90s sinker, and a decent slider, nothing much was expected of the 22-year-old A-baller. But in 27.2 innings after being drafted in ’08, Eppley finished 15 games, saved seven, struck out 37 and walked just 5. His ERA on the year was a shiny 2.60. That success continued at higher levels. After striking out 76 and walking just 6 in 2009 in the Sally league, Eppley shot through the Rangers system in 2010. Between A+, AA, and AAA, Eppley made 51 appearances, saved 16 games, and pitched to a 2.08 ERA with 82 strikeouts and just 23 walks.
The righty was invited to Rangers camp for the first time in 2011 after dropping his delivery even further. He made ten unsuccessful appearances with Texas that season, throwing nine innings, allowing three home runs and five walks, and striking out six. He gave up eight runs and his WHIP was 1.78. He was better (not great) with AAA Round Rock, striking out 55 and walking 34 in 55.1 innings with a 3.90 ERA and 10 saves. He entered camp with a chance to make the Rangers but did not, and the Yankees claimed him off waivers on April 5th.
Eppley has been up and down in five appearances with the Yanks this season. After allowing one earned run in his first 5.1 innings, striking out four and walking two, he struggled on May 5th against Kansas City and was sent down. At Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Eppley has made seven appearances, striking out 13 batters and walking just a single batter in 9.1 innings. He has yet to allow a run and has allowed less than a batter per two innings pitched.
The likely reason Eppley has been given opportunities to throw innings above and beyond those of DJ Mitchell, among others, is Eppley’s position on the 40-man roster. But his minor league track-record is intriguing. Whether his stuff can ultimately transition to the big league level is a major question mark. Whether he will have a place with the Yankees in the long run is even more doubtful. His success at multiple levels makes him a player to watch, though, as he could be the next Darren O’Day.
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