The Yankees just claimed 26-year-old lefty reliever Aaron Laffey off waivers from the Mariners and plan to activate him for Saturday's game against the Twins, giving them a second lefty in the bullpen for the second time all season, the first being the ten days in late July that Steve Garrison was in the major leagues. You might remember Laffey from his four seasons with the Cleveland Indians. Or you might not. He's about as undistinguished as young lefty pitchers get.
Drafted in the middle rounds in 2003, Laffey came up as a starter in 2007, didn't move into the bullpen full time until last year, and didn't pitch exclusively in relief until after the Indians flipped him to the Mariners in early March of this year for Double-A second baseman Matthew Lawson. In his career, he has made 49 starts and 66 relief appearances, posted an ERA+ of 96 and struck out just 34 more men than he has walked in 363 innings due largely to a minuscule strikeout rate of 4.4 K/9.
In terms of stuff, he's a soft-throwing sinker/slider lefty, whose four-seamer averages just shy of 88 miles per hour per TexasLaguers.com. Those sinkers do get him a more than average amount of groundballs, which is how he avoids getting murdered, but he has also had a high batting average on balls in play rather consistently throughout his career, so expecting some correction on his current .320 BABIP is likely misguided. Laffey gives up a ton of hits, and this year has found a way to induce both ground balls and home runs, which is a neat trick, but nothing you want to see performed at the new Yankee Stadium.
As for his power over his fellow lefties, he has held them to a .250/.321/.431 line this year, which isn't all that impressive for a lefty specialist, particularly one against whom righties have hit .343/.395/.533. Over his career, he has fared much better against righties, but about the same against lefties.
I don't expect there's much threat of Laffey making the postseason roster, but with rosters expanding in two weeks, he could be here for the duration of the regular season. If he sucks up some garbage innings and keeps Boone Logan from being overused . . . bah, I still can't see it.
Freddy Garcia has been put on the disabled list due to his cut finger, thus clearing room for Laffey on the 25-man and bringing the Yankees back to a five-man rotation for at least one turn, with A.J. Burnett starting against the Twins on Saturday and Ivan Nova on Sunday. Laffey will then become the eighth-man in the Yankee bullpen and hopefully will be used as such. Opening Day backup catacher Gustavo Molina was designated for assignment to make room for Laffey, temporarily leaving Scranton with only Jesus Montero as a catching option, though I'm sure Molina will clear waivers and return to Scranton in short order. Garcia will be eligible to come off the DL Tuesday having not pitched since August 7. Per the Star-Ledger's (and Baseball Prospectus's) Marc Carig, Garcia will make a rehab start on Monday and be activated to start in next Saturday's double-header against the Orioles.
No, I'm not making a Laffey pun in this post.