Now onto part two of this two-part series. If you haven’t read the first in the series, you can access that here. As we continue this little journey, remember that a contributor is not so much a starter, but rather a player who, at one time, produced at a high level for the club and aided in their first-place record right now. As such, they might be over the hill age-wise, or simply don’t have all the tools to be an everyday player. With that, let’s identify the final three in our series. (in no particular order or importance)
Does Eppley’s 2012 season remind anyone of Cory Wade‘s 2011 season? Isn’t ironic that he replaced Wade in the bullpen? Before this season, Eppley only appeared in 10 games for the Texas Rangers in 2011. In the nine innings he pitched, he accumulated an 8.00 ERA and looked like a minor league pitcher in way over his head. That changed once the Yankees claimed him off waivers and inserted him into the bullpen back in May. Girardi says he’s a righty specialist because of his funky sidearm delivery and extreme splits (.234 BAA vs. RHB compared to .347 vs. LHB). All told, the kid has done a decent enough job in the bullpen for the Yankees this season. He currently holds a 3.59 ERA (3.85 FIP) while appearing in 53 games this season. He’s been every bit the workhorse his cohorts have been out of the ‘pen. Many YGY writers believe he should be the one bullpen arm kicked to curb and replaced with a pitcher with more versatility. Perhaps they’re right, but Eppley has helped solidify a bullpen that counted on Wade to be a huge part of.
A quick look at his stats shows his first half was great (2.70 ERA), but his second half brought him back to Earth a little, pitching to a 4.66 ERA. He especially had a horrid August when batters recorded a .321/.387/.393 slash line against him. However, he’s gotten back on track somewhat for the stretch run, and for that, he makes the All-Contributor Team.
If you don’t love what Ichiro brings to the Bronx, check your pulse. Sure he’s getting up there in age, but if this last series against Toronto (9-for-12, one HR, two doubles, and four SBs) was any indication, Ichiro can still wreck some havoc in spurts. He was brought to the Yankees solely to replace Brett Gardner, after he suffered yet another setback to his bulky elbow. The club knew they weren’t getting the Ichiro of 2001-2002, they knew he’s a shell of what he once was on the diamond, but his skill set mirrors that of Gardner. Plus, his versatility (and cannon arm) in the outfield afforded the Yankees the opportunity to rest more players down the stretch.
Overall, Ichiro has hit .321/.341/.464 with four home runs and 10 stolen bases in pinstripes. Keying on the home runs, he hit four home runs in 400+ at-bats with the Mariners earlier this season. The four home runs he’s clubbed for the Yanks have come in only 168 at-bats, just food for thought. Obviously, home runs are not his forte, but like Gardner, when he gets on base pitchers need to pay attention to him. He’s not the speed demon he once was, but he’s still putting up decent stolen base numbers. This acquisition is looking better and better every day.
Most young pitchers, unless they are Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum, and the like, spend time in the ‘pen with the big club before they find their spot in the rotation. Phelps has personified that idea all season long. Admittedly, he’s a favorite of mine because he’s an underdog who is passed over for the likes of Freddy Garcia. Phelps has really shown something to the Yankees fanbase and brass alike this season, that no matter where you slot him, he’s going to give the team a chance to win.
Case in point, as a starter he’s recorded a 3.81 ERA in 52 innings. He gets even better as a reliever with a 2.50 ERA in 39.2 innings. While his FIP is a full run higher than his overall ERA (4.24), his xFIP (3.85) reveals that he’s an above average pitcher. It’s refreshing seeing a young Yankees pitcher make a big contribution to the club after the Yankees seemingly botched the development of other arms, or just because they simply didn’t pan out (here’s looking at you Andrew Brackman). Phelps will likely push for a spot in the crowded 2013 rotation, or has pitched himself into a trade bait situation. But, for this year, he’s definitely helped the Yankees solidify a faulty bullpen and rotation in the later months of the season.
There you have it! I guess an honorable mention would go to Garcia for having a few good starts, but I think we’ve seen the last of him in pinstripes in 2012. Anyway, gives us your thoughts in the comments on who you think should make the Yankees All-Contributor Team.