Last night's game was certainly an adventure. It had a glorious ending, but the path to get there was not pretty. The Yankees used everyone in their bullpen yesterday, leaving today's starter, David Phelps, with no fresh arms behind him in relief. The Yankees also ran into trouble when infielder Kelly Johnson suffered a strained left groin hustling in right field to make a catch. He has to go on the DL, so the Yankees took advantage of the roster spot opening to offer some relief for their... relief:
Yankees place Kelly Johnson on the DL with a strained left groin. Chris Leroux called up to help out the bullpen, Bruce Billings DFA.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 23, 2014
Triple-A pitcher Chris Leroux, who has made a couple cameo appearances with the team this year, is on his way back up. He's been starting in Scranton and hasn't been very good with a 5.08 ERA, though he does have a 3.96 FIP and a fine 3.2 BB/9. The main reason he's up is that he hasn't pitched since July 18th. He's up just in case the Rangers batter Phelps and Phelps needs an early hook. I'm certain that if the Yankees can avoid using him, they will. To make room for Leroux on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated reliever Bruce Billings for assignment; you probably forgot was even still on the 40, I know I did.
The Yankees will eventually need to get a position player up to the Bronx to take Johnson's spot since right now they are playing with an extremely limited bench being that Carlos Beltran can't play the field and Mark Teixeira has to rest a few days to nurse his mild lat strain. Leroux is just a Band-Aid to hold the Yankees bullpen over until it can freshen up today or tomorrow--it's not a problem to me at all that a fresh reliever is coming up, even though he's not a good one. Once they are, I'm sure the team will swap one of those relievers for a position player. Hopefully it's Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela, but chances are it will be
Scott Sizemore or Zoilo Almonte since both are already on the 40-man roster.(Update: Sizemore is on the Triple-A DL too, so never mind then. Hope yet for Pirela since Zoilo hasn't played first? Maybe?)
Since Johnson was playing first base with Teixeira on the mend, I have no idea who will cover first tonight, though my guess would be either Brian McCann or Francisco Cervelli. Brendan Ryan has also seen a little time there as well, so he's an option too, I suppose. Ah, the Yankees. The walking wounded.