Four internal options who could help the Yankees
Over the weekend, we received numerous pieces of feedback on that piece, with many wondering along the lines of any internal options who also might be able to help the Bombers as they chase down a playoff spot over the last six weeks of the season.
September 1 is the date rosters expand to 40 players (and also the date where postseason eligibility technically ends), but with 10 of the 15 “inactive” players on the 40-man roster on either the MLB or Triple-A DL or down in Double-A (where the Thunder appear headed for a playoff run), there might not be much in the way of immediate help come Labor Day.
However, while the Yankees lost a strong non-roster player when lefty reliever Mike Zagurski (6-3, 2.66 ERA, two saves, 75 K in 47.1 innings over 39 appearances) opted out of his Minor League deal on Friday, there are still a handful of guys down in the Minors that could pay potential big dividends – starting with these four non-roster RailRiders.
With Mark Reynolds now on board, the Yankees might not necessarily “need” a righty-hitting first base/DH type anymore, but Lyle Overbay’s short experiment in right field proves you can teach an old dog new tricks – and it’s the other side of Ruiz’s game that really merits his consideration here.
Astute fans may remember Ruiz as the guy who hit 10 homers in August/September 2009 for the Blue Jays, and he’s been living up to that memory in Scranton this season; signed out of the Mexican League (where he posted a .370-6-20 line in 37 games) in mid-June, Ruiz has hit .296 with 15 homers and 36 RBI in 60 games for the RailRiders through the weekend.
Ruiz has long been considered the prototypical “4-A player,” but given a handful of at-bats in some capacity down the stretch, the Bronx-born slugger could hopefully recreate that 2009 magic and give the Yankees a lethal weapon either off the bench or in a limited DH role.
Phil Hughes has struggled all year, Andy Pettitte has had a tough second half, and CC Sabathia hasn’t pitched well of late – so it could stand that at some point, the Yankees might look to reinforcements for the starting rotation down the stretch.
The Yankees did call up David Huff, who was starting at Triple-A, last week, and with a doubleheader Tuesday, either he or Adam Warren could see a spot start on Saturday or a long piggyback relief outing over the next week.
Beyond those two guys, many of the Yankees’ top Minor League options are on the disabled list, but Bootcheck isn’t – and he’s been arguably the No. 1 starter for the RailRiders this season.
Despite a roughly 10-day stretch where he was called up, used once, and then designated for -assignment and left in limbo while he waited to clear waivers, Bootcheck still leads the team in wins (nine) and is second behind Brett Marshall in starts (20) and innings pitched (117.2), and, of the seven pitchers with at least eight starts for the RailRiders this year, he is second in ERA (3.67) behind the departed Chien-Ming Wang.
Not bad stats for a guy who hasn’t started a Major League game since 2005 and spent the 2012 season as a closer, and if needed, he could channel another Yankee of the past – Aaron Small, maybe? – and give the Bombers a few solid appearances down the stretch.
SAM DEMEL and MATT DALEY
These two are included together simply because they’re both righty relievers, but both have impressed at the top Minor League level so far.
Demel, who was claimed off waivers from Houston near the end of Spring Training, has been at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre all year and has pitched to a 1.64 ERA, the best of anyone on the team with 30 or more innings pitched. In 31 appearances/44 innings, he has a strikeout to walk ratio of 3:1 (54 K/18 BB), a 1.16 WHIP, and has held righty batters to a .182 average this year.
Daley, meanwhile, had to work his way back up through the system after suffering an injury in Spring Training, but he has been great since reaching Triple-A in early-June. Over 24 games/29 innings pitched, Daley has an even better ERA (1.55) and WHIP (0.86) than Demel, has a ridiculous K/BB ratio of over 6:1 (37 strikeouts against just six walks), and has held righties to a .119 average.
Overall, Daley is 4-1 with a 1.25 ERA, 58/10 K/BB and .178 average against in 38 games/43.1 innings between Tampa, Trenton, and Scranton.
The recently-demoted Preston Claiborne would surely be the Yankees’ first (and easiest) choice if a reliever was needed in the interim, but either the dominant Demel or Long Island-born Daley could be a great choice if someone in the relief corps falters or is injured beyond that.