New York Yankees

The New York Yankees famous “Scranton Shuttle” has taken a step back from its reputation of being a saving grace for New York.

2,041.6 miles.

That is the approximate mileage on the New York Yankees heavily used “Scranton Shuttle” here in 2016 as it seems to be experiencing some mechanical difficulties.

A year ago, the shuttle was brought to the spotlight as a service made up of few players (or in this case, riders) who posed as contributors to numerous games out of the bullpen in any given scenario.

When every starting pitcher endured a DL stint, a trip from Scranton by one of the young guns in the organization would make the absence less bothersome. And boy did it show.

The Yankees bullpen tossed the third most innings in the American League (530.2) while maintaining the seventh-best ERA, the highest save percentage (80%) and the largest K/9 ratio (10.11).

Although most of those numbers were influenced by the 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, the Yankees still obtained substantial augmentation from several unsung specialists.

At times, there were dozens of arms moved back and forth from PNC Field and Yankee Stadium but the common trio of young guns that were constantly demoted and recalled was made up of Branden Pinder, Nick Goody, and Nick Rumbelow.

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Altogether the group worked 49 innings while maintaining a 3.55 ERA and were integral parts of over 20 transactions that occurred last season. At a rate of once every three games, a pitcher was called up or demoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

This strategy was perhaps an under the radar cause of New York’s first playoff appearance since 2012 as it counterbalanced a fragile starting rotation with one of baseball’s rarest yet hottest commodities of this generation. Young pitchers.

In the initial three seasons’ of a ballplayer’s tenure on a team’s 40-man roster, he may be optioned and recalled as many times as the organization desires. The only rule is that once a player is demoted, he may not be brought up to the major league team until 10 days have past unless an injury occurs.

For the New York Yankees, this strategy was conceived by the health of the starting rotation which impacted the shuttle’s usage. As mentioned, every starter in 2015 made their way onto the shelf and missed time due to injury.

This season, after CC Sabathia and Luis Severino found their way onto the disabled list (keep in mind, it’s only two members of a rotation with a track record of injuries), nobody seems as though they can step up to the tall task of providing New York with reliability.

There has been a total of 16 transactions between Triple-A and the majors including Luis Cessa, Tyler Olsen, Branden Pinder, Nick Goody, Phil Coke, Johnny Barbato, Chad Green, and Conor Mullee.

Combined, this group has a combined ERA of 5.65 as the middle relief unit has struggled to bridge the gap between the starter and the “three-headed monster” in the back end of the bullpen.

Yes, we’ve started to see starting pitchers like Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi go six innings in order to hand the ball right over to the automatic part of the bullpen, but what are the Yankees going to do in a circumstance like today?

For games in which they have used No-Run DMC in three consecutive games prior, the team will have to turn to members of the Scranton shuttle in order to bail Sabathia (who will unlikely deal a complete game).

It could always just be an unfortunate time for these young arms, or it could mean that they are not worthy of a ticket on board the infamous shuttle.

One thing’s for sure, though, with Justin Wilson and Adam Warren no longer relieving games for the Yankees, these youngsters will have a tougher time adjusting to constantly being transported back and forth from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Bronx.

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