With MLB rosters beginning to expand to 40 for the final month of regular season play, the Yankees made a slew of moves to better themselves physically down the stretch.
Sitting 4.5 games ahead of the Athletics for the first AL Wild Card spot, the Yankees begin a critical three-game set in Oakland on Labor Day.
With stars Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Aroldis Chapman still on the shelf, Clint Frazier in the midst of a rehab assignment and Gary Sanchez only recently rejoining the major league club, some Yankee regulars could use a bit of a breather.
However, for manager Aaron Boone, it’s a game of cat and mouse –whether or not to rest his most trusted personnel for those just called up, now that Sept. 1 has brought with it roster expansion to 40.
The first group of players that received their invitation to the Bronx are mostly guys we’re well aware of, including Tyler Wade, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa and the newly acquired Andrew McCutchen and Adeiny Hechavarria.
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Left-handed pitcher Stephen Tarpley is the one name some Yankee fans are unfamiliar with. Tarpley, 25, came from the Pirates in 2016 as part of the Ivan Nova trade.
A hard-throwing two-pitch reliever (hard sinker and sharp slider), Tarpley has compiled a stellar 7-2 record, 1.94 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .168 BAA and 71:26 K:BB ratio in 69.2 innings this season at Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Tarpley’s 95-mph stuff should play well at Yankee Stadium, as he also boasts a 66.3 ground ball rate as opposed to a 16.3 fly ball rate. However, in his first taste of big league action on Tuesday vs. the Tigers, Tarpley allowed three earned runs on three hits while walking two and striking out one. Not a great beginning.
Why the Yanks keep going to the well with Luis Cessa is beyond me. At 26, we likely know what to expect from him moving forward. In 30.1 innings this season in pinstripes, Cessa is 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA, 1.451 WHIP and 23:12 K:BB ratio.
As for Wade, just one minor league season after hitting .310 in 85 games, the 23-year-old has taken a step back in 2018. In 91 games for the RailRiders, Wade is slashing .255/.328/.360 with 46 runs scored, 18 doubles, four homers, 27 RBIs and 82:27 K:BB ratio.
Though Wade’s big league action has been limited this season, his .186/.238/.305 slash through 59 at-bats has done little to instill confidence.
No. 3 prospect Jonathan Loaisiga is perhaps the most exciting recall, especially with Lance Lynn pitching like, well, Lance Lynn (1-2 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in his last 35.1 innings).
Prior to hitting the DL in early July, Loaisiga made four starts in place of the injured Masahiro Tanaka — going 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.278 WHIP and 21:8 K:BB ratio in 18 innings.
Working his way back since Aug. 11, the Yankees have been slowly building up Loaisiga’s arm strength, which includes a 96-mph four-seam fastball. In four minor league appearances, the 23-year-old has allowed in 10 hits in 11 innings with a 9:4 K:BB ratio, throwing 58 pitches in his last outing on Aug. 28.
To make room for recent the acquisitions of McCutchen and Hechavarria, the Yankees DFA’ed Shane Robinson and Ryan Bollinger.