Caleb Ferguson essentially ending another Yankees loss should seal his fate

Atlanta Braves v New York Yankees
Atlanta Braves v New York Yankees / New York Yankees/GettyImages

What a spirited comeback by the New York Yankees, who overcame Luis Gil's regression and meatballed Will Benson home run with a four-run rally in the final four innings of Tuesday's series opener against the Reds.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson made a very brief and outsized impact on the action by entering in the fifth to calm things down and, instead, taught a masterclass in how to get tatered by Elly De La Cruz.

Let's take a look at that beautiful bean footage to give De La Cruz, one of the game's budding stars, credit for going out and getting a tough pitch. Sometimes, you just hit your spot and get beaten.

And sometimes, you leave a flat fastball directly in De La Cruz's bat path to help prep him for a potential Home Run Derby appearance. Caleb Ferguson vs. That Elderly Man Who Pitched to Josh Hamilton. Spot the difference.

Ferguson survived the recent bullpen purge that resulted in Victor González being DFA'd (and clearing waivers later) because his K rate indicated untapped potential, whereas González's numbers hinted that he was poised to get worse, not better. Eventually, the Yankees will have to stop waiting around for Ferguson's positive regression, though. He's earned himself a DFA -- and, at the very least, he cannot be called upon in anything resembling a close game, something Aaron Boone likely should relearn.

Yankees should replace Caleb Ferguson with internal reliever immediately

Here's where baseball has changed a little bit across generations. You used to be able to carry a slop guy in your bullpen and hide him from the light. Even good teams had pitchers whose skills lagged demonstrably behind their cohorts and were used exclusively in blowout losses. This is no longer possible. Rest is paramount. Top relievers can't go three or four consecutive regular-season games. Eventually, that middle-to-back of the bullpen is going to be used, and that pitcher cannot be unusable. A lesser team sitting well out of a postseason race could continue to go to a player like Ferguson, but the Yankees, their comfortable lead suddenly waning, cannot afford to wait for his red-hot whiff and K percentages to normalize his production. If a pitcher spends an entire first half giving you evidence that he isn't one tweak away, he probably isn't.

So, who next? Scott Effross, JT Brubaker, and Lou Trivino? Sure. Deadline additions? Unquestionably. But right now, the Yankees need to see what they have in 6'8" strikeout king Jack Neely, currently performing nicely in his first four Triple-A outings. The Yankees need a 40-man roster spot for Neely and, oh, look, how convenient, Ferguson was just telling me he was planning on giving his away.

The last time the Yankees went to the farm (and off the 40-man) unexpectedly, it was to showcase Ben Rice before the deadline, which has helped clarify things a bit, even as the roster has continued to struggle around him. The sooner the better for a Neely/Ferguson swap, too.