Yankees Notebook: Aaron Boone’s unpredictable bullpen remains effective, Carlos Rodon resumes throwing
The Yankees bullpen which was once loaded with prominent names such as Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton has a much different look this season. It hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s been effective as the group of lesser-known relievers has pitched to a 3.24 bullpen ERA which ranks fourth in baseball.
Aaron Boone’s use of his stable of relievers has been unpredictable — thanks in part to injuries to Jonathan Loaisiga (elbow) and Tommy Kahnle (biceps) on the IL — as seemingly none of his pitchers have a cemented role with the absence of a lockdown closer as the most glaring vacancy. Clay Holmes entered the season as the presumptive ninth-inning arm but his 4.11 ERA and inconsistency since the second half of 2022 have forced the Yankees’ skipper to do a lot of mixing and matching.
“The good part about it is, I feel like we got a lot of really good options,” Boone said before Sunday’s series finale against the Rays. “And obviously we’ve used Michael King carefully here early in the season and using him in length so more often than not there’s been a lot of days where he’s been down, so that factors into things.
“But really, trying to get these guys in parts of the lineup where we feel like they would be the most successful. … At its best, those guys down there not only are really good but also compliment each other with different looks.”
King has been an anchor of sorts for the Bombers. He has resumed the same role he had last season as a multi-inning high-leverage reliever prior to suffering an elbow fracture on July 22, 2022. It was in that role that Boone said of King during spring training that “there wasn’t a more valuable guy in the sport.”
The 27-year-old owns a 2.53 ERA and appears to be at the top of Boone’s trust tree sharing the spotlight with Wandy Peralta. Peralta assumed the closer duties in both of the Bombers’ wins Friday and Saturday against the Rays.
The southpaw has been incredibly effective this season pitching to a 1.76 ERA and taking the ball in high-leverage situations.
“I never mind Wandy out there…,” Boone said after Friday’s win over the Rays. “Obviously I know that Wandy is never ever afraid of the situation.”
The shuffle of arms and roles has led to a few unexpected surprises that can prove to be valuable weapons with what’s left of the 162-game marathon. Ian Hamilton (1.29 ERA in 14 appearances) and Jimmy Cordero (2.81 ERA in 15 appearances) have filled valuable innings throughout the early days of the season.
RODON THROWING AGAIN
After receiving a cortisone shot Tuesday to relieve his ailing back, Carlos Rodon has resumed throwing.
“He actually threw [Saturday] and he duplicated that [Sunday],” Boone said. “Light, 60-75 feet. I think he’s going to up that [Monday], so we’ll have a better barometer heading into the week of where we’re at and where we can progress.”
The 30-year-old has yet to make his Yankee debut after signing a six-year, $162 million contract this offseason. First, it was forearm tightness in March that delayed his season and now the two-time All-Star is battling to get over the hump of back discomfort.
SEVERINO ON THE WAY
Luis Severino will toe the slab for the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate Somerset Patriots on Tuesday and if all goes well, he could return to the Bombers on Sunday in Cincinnati against the Reds, according to Boone.
The right-hander has also yet to throw a pitch for the Yanks this season due to a lat injury suffered in spring training.
The 29-year-old’s free agency audition — his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2023 season — is nearing the starting gate.
PERAZA BEGINS REHAB ASSIGNMENT
Infielder Oswald Peraza will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. The 22-year-old is recovering from an ankle injury after stumbling into second base in the Yanks’ win over the Guardians on May 3.
It remains to be seen if Peraza will stay with Triple-A or return to the bigs upon the completion of his assignment.