Yankees' impending Caleb Ferguson DFA decision will happen sooner than you think

Houston Astros v New York Yankees
Houston Astros v New York Yankees / New York Yankees/GettyImages

The New York Yankees will, theoretically, bring back a cavalcade of experienced, high-leverage relievers this summer, with Tommy Kahnle coming first after completing his current rehab process.

No matter how many relievers return from the group of Kahnle, Scott Effross, and Lou Trivino, it seems likely the Yankees will target additional help at the deadline, too, given their difficulties in finding consistent swing-and-miss arms so far this season.

The bullpen ERA? Top-tier. The bullpen trust level, with runners on second and third and one out? No comment. A soft grounder helps quite often, but when push comes to shove, you'd always rather have a strikeout, something Dennis Santana, Victor González, Roving Bullpen Spot Currently Occupied by Michael Tonkin, and Caleb Ferguson often struggle to obtain.

Of that quartet, Ferguson's somehow become to most worrisome trouble spot. Tonkin will undoubtedly be the first DFA'd when the need arises (and should've been lopped off the roster last week instead of Ron Marinaccio's seventh career demotion), but the second time the Yankees need to move someone down the ladder, it should be the 27-year-old left-hander acquired in a high-profile move with the Dodgers on the chopping block.

In fact, you could argue that the bullpen would be stronger right now if Marinaccio were still around instead of Ferguson.

Yankees bullpen role might not be Caleb Ferguson's for much longer

Entering Sunday's soon-to-be meltdown, Ferguson hadn't allowed an earned run in his previous seven appearances. Naturally, that begs two questions: how high-leverage were the appearances, and against which teams did he appear?

The lefty rebounded, somewhat, with a scoreless frame in a tight game against Oakland and a late-and-close appearance against Milwaukee. The next five appearances, though? Blowout against the Brewers, unearned run allowed against Baltimore, two strikeouts in two batters against the O's (seven-pitch outing in total), one-third of an inning against Detroit (hit, walk, strikeout), and four total pitches against the Astros in a blowout, stranding a runner on third in an 8-2 game.

For someone who'd once been atop the trust tree and was asked to get big extra-inning outs in both Cleveland and Arizona, even these seven "impressive" outings represented an early fall from grace. Sunday's nightmare, featuring a grand slam allowed to an ice cold No. 9 hitter, raised his ERA from 3.95 to 6.43, as his WHIP held steady at 1.57 through 17 games.

Ferguson was imported to be a swing-and-miss artist, whiffing 264 men in 221.1 career innings to this point. As a Yankee, he's harnessed none of those tendencies; his whiff rate sits in the 51st percentile, while his expected ERA is the dregs (6th percentile).

The Yankees surrendered very little to obtain Ferguson (newcomer lefty Matt Gage and prospect Christian Zazueta), and they shouldn't be afraid to cut bait on him, even though he seemed poised to fill larger shoes than he has so far. Ferguson won't be the corresponding move for Kahnle, and Trivino likely won't be back as quickly as anticipated, but his delayed arrival won't affect this decision whatsoever.

Whoever's next to enter the bullpen -- whether it's an import, returning fan favorite, or someonebeing bumped from the rotation for Gerrit Cole's arrival -- should spell the end of Ferguson's Yankee tenure.