Remember Bryan Mitchell? I barely can at this point. We’ve been waiting for him to make something of himself for so long that it’s easy to forget he exists now that the team has essentially passed him by this year.
Mitchell had been a starter in the system for years, blessed with great stuff, but never truly being able to put it all together and become something close to reliable. In 2015, things finally started to come together for him. Moved to the bullpen, he allowed only four earned runs in 15 innings of relief while striking out 14 and walking four. His time as a starter allowed him to make several three-inning appearances for the Yankees, even collecting a save in his first game of the season.
I have never really been a fan of Mitchell, because he’s never been able to put it together, however, his time in the bullpen was intriguing. Unfortunately, the Yankees needed him in the rotation and he was struck in the face by a comebacker. When he returned to the majors, he was never the same pitcher and struggled for the rest of the season.
While bad luck messed things up for him, 2016 was looking to be his year. Lumped in with all the minor league pitching in spring training, Mitchell had a chance to differentiate himself from the mediocre options around him. He threw 15.2 innings this spring, splitting time between the bullpen and rotation, and looked great doing it. Mitchell maintained a 0.57 ERA and struck out 12 batters on his way to earning a spot on the MLB roster.
Then misfortune struck again and Mitchell broke his toe in a freak accident while covering first base in his last spring training appearance. It was a bad break for a guy who looked finally ready to make something of himself. He went from star of the show to being largely forgotten by the first week of the season.
I figured it wouldn’t be long before he was healthy again and ready to contribute, after all, it was just a broken toe. Fast forward to August, and Mitchell was just starting his rehab assignment. It was a disaster, and now he owns a 6.75 ERA after 12 innings pitched this year. Even after missing four months of baseball, he doesn’t look likely to get a call up anytime soon, meaning he has basically missed an entire season at this point, and missed out on his opportunity to contribute.
At the rate he was going out of spring training, Mitchell would have been a nice addition to an already strong bullpen. He could have helped the team’s middle relief get the ball to their three-headed monster, something they struggled to do all year. Instead, we watched reliever after reliever fall apart in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, and then they brought Adam Warren back.
It’s probably safe to cross off 2016 as a lost season, but what’s next for him? Mitchell was becoming one of the team’s primary rotation depth guys, but now there is Chad Green and Luis Cessa, Luis Severino should still be considered, and a slew of lesser prospects ready to contribute as early as next year. It feels like Mitchell is now stuck on the outside looking in, and he’ll have to find a new way to get back into the picture in 2017.
At this point, I don’t think he should be considered a starting pitcher anymore. The organization seems to have enough backend depth as it is, but they are lacking in quality bullpen arms. His stuff will easily play up in the bullpen, and I think it will be a good idea to give him a consistent role next year. With his history as a starter, he should be able to offer multiple innings, and maybe serve as an Adam Warren-type, who can pitch in short relief, long relief, or make a spot start here and there if needed.
Maybe most people have forgotten about Mitchell, and it would be understandable if you did, but he can still find a role with the team next year. He’s only 25 and won’t even be arbitration eligible until 2019, so it’s not like time is running out for him or anything. Let’s move on from this year and hope he can finally get the chance to step up. No more Bad Luck Bryan, ok?