Despite the trade deadline acquisitions of Scott Effross and Lou Trivino, the New York Yankees could still use a few bullpen shots in the arm down the stretch.
Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga have been better, as of late, but does anyone fully trust them? Michael King and Chad Green aren’t walking through that door. Clay Holmes has been … ooh, boy, look at the time, gotta go!
Even post-deadline, there are still a few cards left to play internally, though. The Yankees shipped off upper-level arms in JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina and Hayden Wesneski, leaving very few Triple-A pitchers on the 40-man, but fan favorite Stephen Ridings remains in play. Don’t sleep on the red-hot Greg Weissert, either, who could be added to the 40-man roster at the drop of a hat — or in the offseason.
Ridings got a surprise promotion in 2021, parlaying an amazing story (he’s a substitute teacher!) and impressive heat into being a part of the Yankees’ mid-August resurgence. Unfortunately, the team sank again before the season wrapped, and Ridings went down for the count with shoulder issues just as he was peaking.
He was added to the 40-man this offseason and protected from the Rule 5 Draft anyway, but hasn’t stepped on a mound yet following that major news, felled by more shoulder issues.
On Thursday, though, Ridings finally turned an important corner — even though he couldn’t ace a spelling test. The 26-year-old announced he was throwing his first official bullpen. When had he most recently tossed off the rubber? He couldn’t find it on the calander — wait, sorry, “calender” — wait, ugh, no. Nope.
Yankees reliever Stephen Ridings could be back. Check a calendar.
In 2021, Ridings was a brief star burst, allowing a single earned run in five innings (across five outings), walking a pair and striking out seven. He made a particular, Pitching Ninja-worthy MLB debut against the Orioles in a 13-1 win (striking out the side), and was also integral to a crucial road win over the Chicago White Sox, holding the Pale Hose scoreless in a 5-3 victory.
And then, like a flash, he was gone.
It was very un-Yankee-like for the Bombers to protect Ridings this offseason instead of exposing him to the Rule 5, especially with such little data in their arsenal. As it turns out, the Rule 5 never even happened (cool!), and Ridings’ injury meant he would’ve likely been returned to the Bombers if it had.
That’s not important now, though. The player is alive, well, and preparing to contribute. Ideally, Ridings will return to action before the minor-league season concludes and get some run in Scranton. It’s unlikely the Yankees will employ him down the stretch in a playoff seeding dog fight, but getting the right-hander up and running for 2023 should be a top priority.
You know, when the calander — sorry, calendar turns.