Having a homegrown fan of the hometown team in the bullpen felt like a dream come true for Yankees fans, one year before Anthony Volpe ascended to the top of the depth chart at shortstop.
Unfortunately, like most heartwarming narratives surrounding the Yankees in recent years, this one sputtered, too. Isn't the modern iteration of this fanbase owed one hometown hero? What about two? Three could be nice. Zero sucks.
Ron Marinaccio parlayed a ridiculous changeup and eye-popping numbers in the minors into an Opening Day roster opportunity in 2022, and served as one of the team's strongest relief options all year long after he found his footing in May. His strongest month, by far, was June, when he allowed a single hit and struck out 12 across nine outings/11 innings (and, yes, he walked six). That didn't stop him from being sent down, of course, because the Yankees are ruthless, but he returned swiftly enough and continued dominating ... until a stress reaction in his shin arrived at the wire, knocking him out of the postseason. Crushing blow.
2023? While Marinaccio was purportedly healthy in his sophomore year follow-up, his stuff regressed. His walk rate, which was his one weakness in '22, maintained itself (13.3% to 13.2%). Unfortunately, he stopped stranding those free passes, watching his hard-hit percentage leap by 11.3% year-over year to 36.8%. Worst of all, his off-speed run value dropped all the way to the fifth percentile. His changeup, no longer fooling anyone, was either being laid off or smacked, and it eventually led to a return to Scranton.
When the Yankees demoted Marinaccio in 2022, it was roster manipulation, and it felt uncouth. When they sent him down unceremoniously in 2023? It was for his own good. Unfortunately, the demotion didn't fix much of anything; Marinaccio's control problems only worsened, and the line he posted was ugly.
Yankees need Ron Marinaccio to overcome injury, find himself in 2024
In case you stopped following Marinaccio when he was demoted, we hate to break this news to you: 14 games, 15.1 innings, 15 earned runs, 18 walks, all good for (bad for) an 8.80 ERA. Instead of getting his sea legs, as a struggling Chad Green once did before a triumphant return, Marinaccio's confidence was only shaken further.
Marinaccio will now be "competing" for the final spot in the Yankees' bullpen if the team does not reunite with Wandy Peralta or Keynan Middleton and declines to sign, say, Hector Neris or Ryan Brasier. A year ago, that would've sounded like pleasant news, representing an overstuffed 'pen. Now, it sounds quite daunting.