OK, now that left-hander Matt Krook has made his glorious return from the Triple-A injured list, it's time for us to talk about him.
There's nothing more nebulous than the minor-league IL. Sometimes, somebody slept on a Ramada Inn mattress weird and returns immediately after a stiff week off. Sometimes, somebody is on the verge of Tommy John and elicits radio silence. When Spencer Jones missed three games this past week with the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades, no one knew what was wrong. Luckily, we all received a panacea when he returned to go 8-for-14 with a homer and four doubles to end the week. Cool!
All of this is to say that Krook, perhaps the final cut from Yankees spring training, dominated to start the season, the disappeared to the injured list, only to luckily reemerge this weekend looking just as impressive as he had before the pause.
Krook's three whiffs on Sunday (he's mostly been used in short relief after starting 22 games last season) lowered his batting average against below .100, and upped his K/9 to nearly 20. Entering the weekend, he's now whiffed 27 men in 13.2 innings total.
While the Yankees have some tough DFA decisions and roster manipulation choices coming up, removing the current revolving door bullpen role (currently occupied by Ryan Weber) and elevating Krook to that spot (he's on the 40-man, after all) feels like the next logical endpoint. And maybe he sticks.
Yankees should promote reliever Matt Krook from Scranton after injury return
The Yankees' bullpen has persevered without a second left-hander, but that doesn't mean it isn't weird that they don't have a second left-hander. Wandy Peralta has alternated being iffy and being nails this year, and is currently in a "nails" stretch, closing out the Rays twice in one weekend while showing extreme gumption.
Therein lies the problem, though. Peralta is a closer type. Using him in the sixth inning in a matchup scenario would neuter this Yankees bullpen somewhat. Krook could provide the same upside, but start in the middle innings (if he can prove himself in lower-leverage scenarios first).
In this season's small sample size, Krook has been remarkably effective against both lefties and righties. He's allowed five hits in 8.1 innings against right-handers, walking four, hitting a batter and striking out 13. Against left-handers? Krook has held them hitless, retiring 16 of them -- 14 on strikeouts.
His lone bugaboo appears to be his control; he's walked nine men in all this season, and his minuscule WHIP is made up almost entirely of free passes (yes, he's walked six lefties). That said, he's unlikely to suddenly snap his fingers and erase "shaky control" from his resume overnight (and it hasn't hurt Ron Marinaccio much at the big-league level, who's also walked 10 men in 20 innings this season). Considering he has both options and 40-man status, Krook's health should be the final signal that he's ready for primetime.