New York Yankees: Bryan Mitchell's Performance Stems Enormous Implications
Noah K. Murray, USATSI

Entering a New York Yankees starting rotation with much uncertainty, Bryan Mitchell solidified his place last night.

The New York Yankees have improbably surprised the baseball world with a stellar stretch of baseball, effectively fortifying themselves into the thick of the AL playoff picture. 21-13 since the pivotal August 1 trade deadline, 2.5 games back of the second and final AL Wild Card, and only 4.5 games off the pace in the AL East.

Long story short, the pinstripes are positioned to thrive in the season’s final four weeks, quite possibly entering the postseason for a second straight season. In order to accomplish just that, Joe Girardi’s club will have to topple the potent AL East foes they have yet to jump.

How? Pitch, pitch, and pitch some more.

The emergence of Gary Sanchez sparking a playoff push. The second half prominence of Starlin Castro. The under-the-radar nature of a brilliant Tyler Clippard pickup. 

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None of this is remotely glorified without an unexpectedly solid, yet depleted, starting staff.

A unit which has lost the likes of Nathan Eovaldi and Chad Green to injury, while receiving underperformance from Michael Pineda and Luis Severino — Severino is now seeing success out of the bullpen. Moreover, a group that saw Ivan Nova, a mainstay who took the ball every fifth day, shipped off to Pittsburgh.

Let’s just say the makeshift aspect of the staff has been quite troubling. However, as mentioned before, has somehow gotten the job done.

Well, there is simply no time to continually fool around. The Yankees are in the midst of a pennant race which demands quality starts day in and day out. One rough patch and 2016 is history before it concludes.

Last night, youngster Bryan Mitchell provided hope. 

But it was more than that. The 25-year-old right-hander, who has one of the liveliest arms in the organization, gave an idea as to a concrete rotational structure moving forward.

In merely a spot apart, Mitchell tamed one of the most potent lineups in the game. Making his first big league appearance of an injury plagued year, he fired five efficient, four-hit, shutout frames to set the tone for the remainder of the game.

“I’m sure it means a lot to him, what he’s had to battle through this year, the frustration. He was looking forward to the season and knew he’d play a valuable role for us, and to get hurt the way he did, it was a week before we left, at the most … It had to be extremely frustrating. Spending all those days down in Florida rehabbing … For him to come out and do it this time of year, in a game that’s this important, it really had to mean a lot to him.” -Joe Girardi told the NY Daily News

Destined to be a major part of New York’s 2016 plans, his toe — which he had surgery on earlier in the season — proved to be his worst enemy.

Now that he has convincingly returned, the franchise can put the past where it belongs.

Mitchell, who, with time, can become an extremely formidable three-pitch major league starter, needs to be penciled in every five days until October 2 comes about — the end of the regular season.

In a rotation swarmed with mediocrity, he can be an invaluable asset.

CC Sabathia brings veteran experience to the table. Michael Pineda brings the potential of electricity. Luis Cessa brings a hint of youth along with a lively presence.

All of the generally conceived “mediocre” arms essentially bring something to the table, with Masahiro Tanaka restoring order as the ace every turn.

Right now, the fifth spot has virtually nothing to offer. It is a sheer vacancy.

Last night’s outing should instill no doubt in one’s mind that Bryan Mitchell can handily fill that void, with possible incentive if he rolls into the playoffs — the Yankees play 21 of their final 24 games against AL East foes, including the trio of teams in front of them.

He has earned a righteous shot to aid the playoff chase, get his foot in the door for 2017, and ultimately make his mark on a nearly lost season.

The rest is in the hands of a large piece to an almost completed puzzle. 

“I believe I belong here, regardless,” Mitchell told Anthony McCarron of the NY Daily News. “It’s been my goal all year to get back here, and to come back right now, this exciting time, arguably the most important series of the year, I’m just glad we got a win.”

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