One of the truly under reported areas of the 2010 Yanks is the lefthanded bullpen options. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that after Damaso Marte, there aren’t many. Add on top of that the fact that Marte has been hurt for most of his tenure as a Yankee and it’s something that Yankee fans should have some concern about. Chad Jennings took a look at this area of potential weakness for the 2010 Yanks on a post over at LoHud yesterday. He lists the Lefthanded bullpen options as follows:
Despite last year’s ugly season ERA — a shockingly bad 9.45 through 13.1 innings spread across 21 games — Marte was actually good against left-handers last year. As a strictly left-on-left specialist, last season actually gives no reason for concern.
Career vs. LH: .197/.294/.287
2009 vs. LH: .120/.214/.280
Back in 2006, Logan went into spring training having pitched a total of four games above rookie ball, but he somehow made the White Sox opening day roster. With his career suddenly pushed much faster than expected, Logan’s first big league appearance spanned two scoreless innings, but he ultimately had an 8.31 big league ERA that season. Since then, he’s been up and down (in terms of going from the big leagues to the minors, and in terms of his success at the major league level). These are his big league splits the past three years.
2007 vs. LH: .221/.296/.291
2008 vs. LH: .291/.324/.505
2009 vs. LH: .231/.318/.308
Wilkin De La Rosa
The young prospect of the group, De La Rosa is a converted outfielder who pitched last year out of the Double-A rotation. Mark Newman has said De La Rosa is likely to return to the Double-A rotation for the start of 2010, but I’m not ready to completely rule him out of the big league mix. It seems unlikely, but possible that he’ll make such an impression in big league camp that the Yankees change their plans.
2009 AA vs. LH: .159/.274/.262
2008 LA vs. LH: .182/.291/.250
De La Rosa also made three High-A starts in 2008 and three more in 2009, but those sample sizes are too small to mean much.
Signed a minor league deal, Ring will get a chance to pitch in spring training but seems more likely to open the season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His career big league splits against lefties are OK but not great (.229 average, but a lot of walks leading to a .350 on-base percentage). He has allowed only two left-handed home runs in 159 career appearances against lefties in the majors.
2009 AAA vs. LH: .208/.296/.264
After Marte, the list is not encouraging. You’re looking at a junkballer who’s likely to get crushed in the AL East in Logan, a AA pitcher who’s at best a mid-season callup in De La Rosa, and a guy who’s bounced around the majors for good reason in Royce Ring. Even Phil Hughes had a fairly stark platoon split last year, so he’s not going to be your go-to guy in a late inning situation when you need to get that one batter out.
But that’s not to say the Yanks will be walking David Ortiz anytime soon. The guy who the Yanks will call upon when Marte is not available in these (non-save) situations will be David Robertson. He had a stark reverse platoon split last year, and for those of us who’ve followed him throughout his minor league career that’s actually been the rule, not the exception. His fastball has a natural cutting action that gives him an edge facing Lefty batters. He also throws an occasional change, which can be more effective against opposite handed hitters. A pitcher’s handedness is something that fans shouldn’t get too hung up about anyway. All too often, we’ve seen Lefty pitchers come here and get everyone out except Lefties, with Chris Hammond as a notable example from back in 2003. The point is to get outs, regardless of which hand a certain pitcher throws with.
But as you can see, the list of options we have is very thin. Especially in light of Marte’s recent health history. I never thought I’d say this, but we may actually miss Phil Coke after all.
(photo courtesy of Newsday)