Feb 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Chase Whitley (81) against the Toronto Blue Jays during a spring training game at George Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down NRI Chase Whitley

The New York Yankees are faced with a dilemma they haven’t had to deal with since 1996. With the retirement of Yankee legend Mariano Rivera, the bullpen will have to be completely revamped. Newly anointed closer, David Robertson, was one of the league’s premier set-up men, leaving a huge void in that role. Newly acquired lefty, Matt Thornton and right-hander Shawn Kelly will most likely compete for that spot. This leaves Preston Claiborne and a flock of young arms competing for the rest of the bullpen.

One such arm is Chase Whitley. Whitley was the 475th overall pick in the 15th round of the 2010 draft. The towering right hander, who stands at 6’3″ and 215 pounds, quickly worked his way up the Yankee farm system. In only two and a half seasons he made his way to Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre where he has enjoyed back-to-back well-pitched seasons. After his 2012 campaign, where he posted a 9-5 record with a 3.25 ERA and a 60 K/ 25 BB ratio over 80.1 innings, he was invited to Tampa for Spring Training in 2013. However, an oblique injury cost him his chance to make the Yankees bullpen last season. Preston Claiborne stepped up and claimed the last bullpen spot while Whitley was shelved for nearly a month and a half. He returned to Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre in 2013 for yet another successful campaign going 3-2 while posting a 3.06 ERA and three saves with a 62 K/21 BB ratio over 67.2 innings pitched.

Whitley has a three-pitch arsenal and many scouts feel that his best pitch is his change-up. It has a lot of movement and he is accurate locating the pitch on both sides of the plate. He possesses an low-90s fastball and a slider that moves across the plate in the mid-80s.

Whitley will be battling Jose Ramirez, Cesar Cabral, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos for a spot in the 2014 bullpen. He may have a slight edge with back-to-back strong seasons at Triple-A. He also has seven career starts at Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre, which could help him in a swingman role. If he does not break Spring Training with the big league club,you can be sure to see Whitley in a Yankee uniform sometime in 2014.

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