Yankees calling on Chance Adams no longer premature after CC’s injury

Chance Adams Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Chance Adams Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Yankees are searching for a competent fifth starter to fill in for CC Sabathia, who’s currently on the disabled list. Their potential best option resides in Triple-A, and the calls for promotion are no longer impulsive.

The Yankees announced Monday that Sabathia is expected to miss at least six weeks with a Grade 2 strained left hamstring. The injury comes at an unfortunate time for the veteran left-hander, who had a 0.99 ERA in his past six starts and is 7-2 with a 3.46 ERA overall this season.

Sabathia’s next turn in the rotation approaches on Saturday. Previously, the Yankees inserted Luis Cessa for a spot start, which went as expected for a pitcher scuffling in Triple-A with six losses and a 4.15 ERA in 10 starts. Cessa surrendered five hits; four earned runs and a walk in four innings against the Oakland Athletics.

The Yanks are reluctant to remove Chad Green from the bullpen because the righty has dominated in 21 1/3 innings of relief work, whiffing 25 batters while sporting a stellar 1.69 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. Green’s fastball-slider combo — combining for 82.9 percent of his pitches thrown — is dominant when facing lineups once or twice around.

Bryan Mitchell dwells in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but poor performance has knocked him down the totem pole. In 13 innings with the big league club, Mitchell has a 5.54 ERA and an obese 1.54 WHIP. His Triple-A numbers (4.50 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) don’t warrant a promotion either.

24-year-old Domingo Germán has impressed in 8 2/3 innings from the pen, allowing just one earned run. But rather than start him, the Yanks could continue using Germán as a long reliever and give Green more high-leverage appearances, especially given the struggles of seventh-inning man Tyler Clippard.

Yankees
Mar 10, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Chance Adams (83) throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Enter Chance Adams, the Yankees’ No. 7 prospect by MLB.com’s ranking. There was a time not long ago when fans’ suggestions for him to join the rotation were premature for two reasons: A) He was never going to replace Masahiro Tanaka despite the severity of Tanaka’s struggles, and B) The Yanks wouldn’t burn space on the 40-man for a one-time spot start.

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However, Sabathia’s injury has opened a door for Adams to gain big league exposure for more than a month.

Adams has dominated the upper levels of the Minors this year. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he’s 9-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings. But for Adams to have success in the Majors, he must limit walks more and pitch deeper into ballgames. In his last ten outings, the Arizona native has walked 22 batters and failed to go at least six innings in three of those starts.

Calling up a rookie for the stretch run isn’t a new strategy for these new-era Yankees. They did it in 2015 by infusing a youthful Luis Severino into their rotation. That jolt of energy, and quality pitching was part of what propelled the team to a playoff appearance in the American League Wild Card game.

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Before the season began, general manager Brian Cashman said Adams “may very well be [the Yankees’] best pitching prospect.” If the GM can’t land a top-tier pitcher at this year’s trade deadline, he may look to Adams for pitching reinforcement, as he did with Severino two years ago.