Examining where players without guaranteed spots on the Yankees' Opening Day roster stand in their quest to make the team after three weeks of Spring Training. Hat tip to our SBN sister site, Talking Chop, for the inspiration.
The third week of Spring Training is over and only Adam Warren has been cut since the last round, so we look to be in a holding pattern for now.
The biggest story to hit in the bullpen battle is the fact that the Yankees might not necessarily take two lefties with them at the end of camp. Clay Rapada is still down with shoulder bursitis and instead of replacing him with another lefty like Juan Cedeno, Josh Spence, or Matt Tracy, the Yankees could instead opt to bring pitchers like Cody Eppley, Shawn Kelley, or Jim Miller. Girardi believes that the late inning relievers are already accustomed to getting lefties out, so the idea of two lefties could be unnecessary.
Cedeno hasn't pitched since February 28th and hasn't been mentioned anywhere, so it's unknown what his status is with the team at this point. It's more than likely he won't be making the team. Spence is the lefty most likely to make the team if they do indeed decide to take a second lefty or Boone Logan can't come back in time for Opening Day. Tracy has only started pitching since March 7th and has not been very good. In three innings he has given up four runs on six hits and is probably only sticking around because he's a lefty.
Out of the three right handed pitchers most likely to make the team, Miller has been the least offensive after giving up five hits, four walks, but also collecting five strikeouts and only giving up two runs. Unfortunately, he's probably on the outside track considering he isn't on the 40-man roster. Kelley has shown some promise this spring, but one bad outing is going to mar his final line. In his first five innings as a Yankee he struck out five and gave up two hits. In his last outing he got beat up and gave up four hits and three runs.
Then there's Cody Eppley, the one most likely to make the team because he's been there before, regardless of how bad he has been. In five innings he has given up four earned runs on seven hits, while walking three and actually striking out seven batters. That last stat is impressive, but he's only had one hitless outing so far this spring.
Red: Based on performance or situation, this player has a slim to no chance of making the team.
Yellow: Player theoretically could make the team with an overwhelming performance or unexpected development.
Chartreuse : Player has a decent chance of making the team if they can beat out their immediate competition.
Green: Player is in a very favorable situation for making the team. Likely seen as the favorite for an open job.
The ones that don't fit into the two categories of lefty or veteran right hander are Vidal Nuno, Preston Claiborne, Branden Pinder. They have all been impressive at times, especially Nuno, who has struck out 12, while giving up only five hits and one run in 8.1 innings pitched. Nuno is a 25-year-old in Double-A, so he won't be given much of a look this spring. Claiborne and Pinder are relief prospects who will be rushed through the system, much like Mark Montgomery has been. Both have racked up strikeouts, but they have been hit around a lot as well.
As for Montgomery, he was the one prospect who could have stolen a spot in the bullpen, but he's been wild, having walked six batters against only three strikeouts. The star relief prospect was not his unstoppable self and though he could still impress in the time he has left, especially if another righty could make the team, he will likely start the season in Double-A where he can get back to striking people out and shooting through the system.
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