Last season, the Yankees' October bullpen looked a little less sharp than the version that had racked up first-half wins, in large part due to the injury absences of Michael King and Ron Marinaccio.
King, the linchpin that made the bullpen's entire back end function, was lost for the season with floating bodies in his elbow shortly after the All-Star break. That singular injury nearly sank the unit's entire second half.
But Marinaccio was also a large loss. The rookie spent most of last season following in King's footsteps and learning how to be a multi-inning weapon as he harnessed his control. He, too, was pulled out of postseason play with a "lingering shin issue" that bit once again just before the regular season concluded on Oct. 2.
Remember Scott Effross? His pre-ALDS Tommy John surgery announcement was Strike 3. Obviously, the Yankees were let down last fall by a lot more than their bullpen, but this trio of losses didn't help.
Though King and Marinaccio have returned in 2023, things have been slightly off from their 2022 vintages. Last season, King erased innings whole cloth; this season, his ERA is up nearly a run thanks to a poor run of recent form (he also surrendered the deep liner that ran Aaron Judge's toe into the Dodger Stadium concrete). And, in his rookie campaign, Marinaccio was adept at keeping runners off base, posting a 1.05 WHIP, predicated mainly on walks. His 2.05 ERA and 22 hits allowed in 44 innings? Immaculate.
His buildup between seasons was slowed by the late-season injury, and though he began this year on a hot streak, things have clattered back to earth in recent weeks. In just 0.1 of an inning less than he threw all last year, Marinaccio has allowed one additional walk (25 to 24) and 13 more hits/four more homers. Things have only gotten worse as the summer has progressed; his July ERA currently sits above 9.00.
Yankees should demote Ron Marinaccio first from MLB bullpen
Last season, Marinaccio's rookie status was exploited by the Yankees, as his options were toyed with for flexibility purposes when he was pitching at his peak (ironically, he was demoted in favor of Frankie Montas).
This year, as a similar roster crunch awaits, Marinaccio has actively earned a "get right" trip to Triple-A, following in Chad Green's footsteps from a few years back.
Marinaccio is a two-pitch pitcher with a trick changeup, not a bulked-up reliever with an overwhelming arsenal. If he lacks confidence, and if he's not inducing chases, he's not very effective. In what may prove to be one of his final appearances with the big club, the heart of the Mets order (Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil) systematically dismantled him on Tuesday night, fouling off pitch after pitch before wearing him down and working walks/hunting liners.
When Nestor Cortes returns in early-to-mid August, he'll need a roster spot. Same with Jonathan Loaisiga, who's working his way back in Tampa (no rush there, but still). The trade deadline presents another opportunity for new faces who require roster concessions. Left-hander Nick Ramirez seems likely to be the first man sent down, but Marinaccio will very plainly be the second. The Yankees would much rather yo-yo a youngster than lose a pitcher like Albert Abreu.
Unfortunately for Marinaccio, there'll be no chicanery involved this time. He's given the Yankees a justification.