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The Yankees are wasting valuable time to evaluate their relief options for next year

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Since selling at the deadline, the Yankees have done a great job giving their prospects ample playing time. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge are future starters, but it’s also good that Tyler Austin is getting a chance to impress to see if he has a place with the team. The bullpen, however, has been largely ignored and they are wasting time that could be spent evaluating their relief prospects.

Last year’s crop of relievers didn’t work out as planned and now Nick Rumbelow, Branden Pinder, and Jacob Lindgren have all required elbow surgery. This year wasn’t much better when you consider that they had nothing of value in the bullpen outside the trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. With that trifecta now broken up, the Yankees need to figure out who is worth keeping around next year so they can get a jump on the evaluation process that is sure to happen next spring training.

The last thing they need to do is wait until April to figure out who can do what at the big league level. Right now is a perfect time to bring up new pitchers to see what they can do for next year. Instead, they have allowed the likes of Kirby Yates, Anthony Swarzak, Richard Bleier, Blake Parker, Tommy Layne, and Chasen Shreve to throw 23.1 innings in relief since August 1. Most of this group lacks much in the way of upside and only half of them are under the age of 30. I have also had just about enough of whatever it is Shreve has become since last September. It’s time to let him figure things out in the minors and move on to others.

Nick Goody, the only guy left standing from 2015’s young relief corps, has not been great overall, but he’s stayed around. However, since August 1, the 25-year-old has been limited to just 2.2 innings, even though he has maintained a 1.59 ERA in the majors from July 15 on. He’s also had a 10.4 K/9 all year, though his walk rate is approaching 4 batters per nine innings. Instead of making him the last guy out of the bullpen, maybe it’s time to give him some more innings to see if he can lower his walk rate, or at least keep the strikeouts up.

Another pitcher who has been suppressed is 24-year-old Johnny Barbato. You might look on his stint in the big leagues as a disaster, but much of his 7.62 ERA can be blamed on an April 30 appearance where he allowed four earned runs in just 0.1 innings against Boston, and a recent August 5 game against Cleveland where he allowed three runs without getting an out. When you consider the fact that he had a 10.4 K/9 in the big leagues and maintained a 3.12 ERA in Triple-A after his May demotion, it seems like his minor league burial is unjustified.

There are others in the high minors who deserve a chance to show off what they can do. Giovanny Gallegos throws in the mid-90s and has maintained a 1.63 ERA and 9.8 K/9 in Triple-A this year. Ben Heller, a recent addition to the organization, can reach the upper 90s as a fastball/slider reliever and has been great this year with a 1.69 ERA, 10.2 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9. He was called up recently, but never got into a game before he was sent back down. Dietrich Enns, the lefty reliever-turned-soft-tossing starter, has done well in the minors, but it’s likely that he ends up as a middle reliever/longman, though we won’t know unless he gets the chance. There are others waiting down there, but you get the idea.

It’s possible that we see a few of these guys when the rosters expand on September 1, but what are we waiting for? It might just be a matter of several games, but let’s not kid ourselves and think that someone like Anthony Swarzak deserves this long of a look over anyone else. If we’re letting the kids play, let’s let them all play and get some answers sooner rather than later.