The once-proud New York Yankees bullpen, owners of the "best ERA in baseball" despite a second-half slide, numerous pitchers being overused, and Michael King becoming a starter (?), lost 2022 breakout Ron Marinaccio along the way.
Marinaccio, perhaps more than any other reliever this season, hit a homer-prone wall, going from trusted setup man to mop-up duty in Year 2. Who could forget his "tough stuff" outing in Sunday's finale against the Kansas City Royals in late July, when he allowed two solo homers in the ninth inning of an 8-3 game to make things unnecessarily sweaty?
Just a few days later, Marinaccio saw his options used for good rather than evil, and was demoted to Triple-A Scranton to figure out where his season had gone wrong (9.95 ERA in his final seven appearances before being sent down).
Last year, the Yankees took advantage of his youth, weakening the bullpen by using Marinaccio's status for increased flexibility. This year? The move was straight-up necessary as the Yankees spiraled.
Unfortunately, things haven't instantly corrected themselves, the way they seemed to when Chad Green was sent down midway through a brutal stretch in 2019 (a season he ultimately ended with a just-fine 4.17 ERA at the MLB level). Marinaccio walked three batters in the ninth inning on Sunday, nearly blowing a thick lead before being yanked for Greg Weissert. That left him with a 7.27 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in eight outings since heading back to Scranton.
Yankees reliever Ron Marinaccio isn't 'finding it' at Triple-A Scranton
Utterly lost, and an additional reliever the Yankees can't count on for 2023.
For those keeping track, Tommy Kahnle has regressed, and has been elite at only one thing: allowing inherited runners to score (eight of nine!). Wandy Peralta has taken steps back, too, and will be entering free agency at the end of the season with his ERA teetering above a rising FIP. King is being stretched out in a starter's mold. Clay Holmes? He's only got one year left before free agency, and has recently done a 180 after correcting things from early May through August.
It depends on whether the Yankees believe they can compete or not, but he might be trade bait (and Matt Blake may need to work harder than ever on "printing" more bullpen pieces).
Marinaccio, more than any other regressive name, might be the most troubling. He was supposed to be a foundational, hometown arm in the bullpen through 2028, pairing with 2022 trade deadline addition Scott Effross as a long-term controllable asset (remember him?). Instead, his command and control have both been lost after a confidence-sacking MLB stretch that showed how difficult it really is to be a sophomore two-pitch pitcher in this league, especially if your fastball isn't elite.
The Yankees will need to see some semblance of Triple-A progress for the remainder of the season. Otherwise, they may need to sell low on another distressed asset.