When the news of Carlos Rodón's forearm strain began the snowball effect of injuries, which also included pitcher Lou Trivino, New York Yankees fans, after sulking for a bit, turned to the next line of defense on the pitching staff.
With Tommy Kahnle also starting the year on the injured list, that means three additional Opening Day roster spots opened up in a matter of days. Though it probably foreshadows the underwhelming reality of Clarke Schmidt in the starting rotation, fans were at least excited to see some potentially promising bullpen arms ahead of schedule.
There's Greg Weissert and Albert Abreu among the familiar faces. Then former Ray Matt Krook, the seemingly new-and-improved Jimmy Cordero, and longtime Yankees prospect Jhony Brito (among a few other non-roster invites).
On Saturday, the Yankees eliminated one of those options ahead of their Opening Day decisions and optioned both Brito and top prospect Randy Vasquez to minor-league camp. Though Brito put forth a good outing on Friday, it wasn't enough to buy him another week.
So far this spring, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and seven strikouts in 7.2 innings of work (three total games). He didn't walk a batter, but he surrendered 12 hits, which was obviously a bit of a concern.
Yankees eliminate Opening Day bullpen option by demoting Jhony Brito
Brito, who's a starter, piggybacked Luis Severino in Friday's action and tossed three effective innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out three. After the outing, manager Aaron Boone complimented the 25-year-old's fastball velocity and command, but noted there's still development to be done with his secondary pitches.
Expect him to start the year at Triple-A Scranton, where he finished the 2022 season going 6-2 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 18 games (15 starts), totaling 70.2 innings. Time to shift your focus to Krook and Cordero, both of whom are the leading candidates to grab the extra roster spots.
Krook (a lefty) has yet to give up a run this spring in his five innings of work (two hits, one walk) while Cordero's been even more effective (4 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB) as his velocity (99 MPH sinker) has grabbed the attention of many. The right-hander rehabbed from Tommy John on the Yankees' dime and showed signs of life last year with his 2.09 ERA and 0.98 WHIP across 38.2 Triple-A innings.
Brito's time will come, but he was clearly trailing in this race and the Yankees need to ensure they have the best possible group of arms heading back north due to all the injuries that have altered the picture.