After a strong showing in Toronto, will Bryan Mitchell make his way onto the New York Yankees rotation after CC Sabathia‘s injury?
When New York Yankees veteran starting pitcher CC Sabathia talked about his right knee injury suffered on Tuesday night, one could tell just by the despondency in his voice, the Yankees will presumably have to replace him in the rotation.
We will, of course, wait for what Dr. Christopher Ahmad has to say before playing doctor, but it’s safe to say a replacement will be needed. Options include Jordan Montgomery, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa and Caleb Smith.
Who’s the ideal option? The man that relieved Sabathia after his three innings pitched at the at the Rogers Centre, Bryan Mitchell.
The 26-year-old effectively preserved the Yankees’ bullpen with four-plus scoreless innings of relief on Tuesday night and has all the tools to take over a rotation spot for the time being and possibly beyond.
Mitchell has made 14 appearances for the Yankees so far this season sprinkled in between four options to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, owning a 3.60 ERA over 25 innings pitched. For the RailRiders this season, the North Carolina native has pitched to a 3.93 ERA in 12 starts featuring 59 strikeouts compared to just 12 walks.
The right-hander has made just one start this season — against the Minnesota Twins on July 17 — and was stellar. In five innings, he allowed just one earned run while striking out two. Last season, he made his regular-season debut on September 7 against the Toronto Blue Jays and finished with a 3.24 ERA in five starts.
That stretch included a start in which he hurled seven innings of two-hit, no-run ball against the current American League-leading Boston Red Sox. It goes without saying: he has earned a chance to start in the big leagues.
His case gets stronger when the plan behind Jordan Montgomery’s inning’s limit is put into consideration.
The southpaw’s career-high in innings is 152 from last season and as he currently stands at 115.2 innings, manager Joe Girardi plans to only increase his young pitcher’s inning total by 30 each — a limit of 180.
Montgomery will continue to start in Triple-A, but on 7 days’ rest and with approximately 60 innings per start. That design won’t work at the Major League level. Taxing the bullpen to that degree is extremely dangerous in the midst of a pennant race.
Could the Yankees walk back on the timing of that procedure and throw Montgomery back into the mix without a cap? Sure, but it won’t be a fitting scenario for the rookie. Believe it or not, this isn’t a demotion. This stint with the RailRiders is to ensure his future in the Bronx is preserved. An injury to Sabathia shouldn’t disrupt that plan.
Which brings us back to Mitchell. He did a commendable job against the Blue Jays on the same day he was recalled and emerges as the best option if the Yankees need to slide an arm into Sabathia’s spot.