Yankees Talk: Bryan Mitchell Wants to Crack Rotation

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees starting pitching rotation is a crapshoot. They might as well figure out if 25-year-old Bryan Mitchell has what it takes to fill a major need.

In continuing the trend of suggesting different names to fill the backend of the 2017 Yankees starting pitching staff, I offer you, Bryan Mitchell.

If you remember back to Spring Training of last year, the 6’3″, 205lb Mitchell was driving the hype bus on his way to a 2-0 record and 0.57 ERA before being struck by a wicked line drive on March 30 — breaking his toe — sidelining him for all but 46 innings of the ’16 season.

Mitchell didn’t return to the Majors until Sept. 7 against the Blue Jays, but through his final five starts of the year, he pitched to the tune of a 3.24 ERA and 1.42 WHIP through 25 IP. More important than the numbers, though, was the fact that Mitchell looked poised on the mound — refining his 4-pitch repertoire (a mid-90s fastball, a cut fastball which replaced his slider, a curveball, and a changeup).

A bulldog mentality coupled with the confidence to pitch inside on right-handed batters is a nice combination to have at a hitter-friendly park like Yankee Stadium — which is exactly what he’ll need to show in Tampa starting in six weeks if he hopes to challenge Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Luis Cessa or Chad Green for one of the last rotation spots.

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Earlier this week, Green called into the Yes Network’s Yankees Hot Stove show to tell all that were watching that he does indeed consider himself a starter — one that plans on making a positive impact this season.

"Mitchell stated, “We [the starters] are all good friends and everyone is a really good pitcher so I think it’s going to be fun going into spring training to see how all of us compete.”"

While it’s easy to assume whoever fails to convince Yankees manager Joe Girardi that they are worthy to be one of the chosen five — would fall back to the ‘pen, keep in mind, Mitchell hasn’t been stellar as a reliever. While it’s easy to point to his career 5.01 ERA out of the bullpen and claim he’s nothing more than those numbers suggest, Mitchell points out that he is a starter turned reliever — not the other way around.

"“I’ve always envisioned myself as a starter. I’m training to be a starter that’s how I came up and that’s how I train in the offseason so I envision myself as a starter,” said Mitchell."

As we’ve seen over the past few season’s, pitchers are temperamental beings. If they aren’t comfortable in a certain role, they usually don’t perform well. Look at Dellin Betances when he was a starter for example.

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Some players don’t excel until they are put into a position to succeed. Perhaps Mitchell’s is as a member of the starting staff. The Yankees ought to hope so.