Albert Abreu’s Pitching Ninja return is Matt Blake and Yankees’ miracle


When Albert Abreu returned to the Yankees last week, following a surprise trade to Texas and a pair of DFAs from different organizations, he pledged that he felt rejuvenated by the pinstripes after only his first taste of the Bronx in 2022.

On Monday night against the Oakland A’s, that rejuvenation played out in practice. Abreu was trusted to record the final out of the seventh in a game the Yankees trailed by two, then finish off the final two innings once the Yanks staged an incredible rally and took a four-run lead.

He didn’t skip a beat, using a combination of heavy sinkers and darting fastballs to by-and-large blow the A’s away. Always featuring a live arm that was equal parts inconsistent, Abreu’s game on Monday truly made you question why the Royals — with so much roster space and room for improvement — would ever intentionally lose him.

Alas, their loss is Matt Blake’s gain, who probably had a plan to get Abreu back in shape long before Brian Cashman ever dealt him to Texas for Jose Trevino. He probably planned all spring long to turn him into a weapon, never got the chance, then saw the fruits of his game plan realized on Monday evening.

Abreu not only dotted the A’s with darting sinkers and hit 100, but he even made Pitching Ninja for his troubles, getting GIF’d by the master.

There isn’t a lot of roster space to go around and Abreu will be pitching on tenterhooks all year long, with the threat of another DFA in the back of his mind. If he can do this, though…

Yankees may have chance to save Albert Abreu

How’d Abreu find himself again so quickly when, say, Andrew Heaney couldn’t figure out Blake’s teachings for two full months?

Familiarity and trust no doubt played a major part in it, but when you look at Abreu’s pitch percentages, his plan seems fairly straightforward: more sinkers, fewer four-seam fastballs.

The right-hander’s straight fastball has plenty of velocity, but it’s largely gotten rocked in 2022 (.628 xSLG, for what it’s worth). Will “Sinker-Slider” Abreu work for the rest of the year? Who knows. But it’s a tangible change that got him GIF’d just a few outings in.

“Now, do it against Boston.” Yeah, heard you. Loud and clear. But Abreu’s newfound approach has taken him from DFA fodder to a potentially entrenched role in a Yankees bullpen that could use a trusted long man.

At the very least, he seems happy to be home.