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What’s next for Yankees reliever Nick Goody?

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Nick Goody? No, you don’t. But there was a time where he was a highly-regarded relief prospect and the Yankees were looking at him and a few others to keep the late-inning game going over the next few years. Unfortunately, that dream looks pretty dead at this point, but Goody has lingered around. He hasn’t pitched in a game since September 2nd and you have to wonder what happens from here.

Expectations

A closer in college, the Yankees took Goody in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He moved quickly through the system, reaching High-A Tampa in his first pro season before requiring Tommy John surgery the following year. He was back on the mound by 2014 and had a strong 2015 season after that. Over his minor league career, Goody’s 13 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 profiles him as a high-strikeout reliever who struggles with some control issues. However, if he can ever manage to work around his tendency to be wold, he could be a useless reliever.

By the time Goody reached the majors, the Yankees had built a reputation for drafting and developing relief pitchers. David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Tyler Clippard, and a few others had come through New York’s system. Dellin Betances had also arrived onto the scene. The 2015 class of relievers was expected to be the team’s next big wave of bullpen help.

Nick Rumbelow, Tyler Webb, and Nick Goody all dominated the minors as closers, and then Jacob Lindgren arrived on the scene to make the depth chart really sparkle. Even Branden Pinder, who managed to raise his stock the year before, was given a chance. However, it all went up in smoke. Rumbelow and Pinder were disappointing and eventually needed Tommy John surgery. Lindgren’s time with the Yankees was an unmitigated disaster as the left-hander struggled mightily and underwent two separate elbow surgeries. Webb is still rattling around in the minors after a short stint as a starting pitcher. Now Nick Goody is the last man standing, but it doesn’t mean much for him at this point.

Reality

He has a 4.66 ERA with an ugly 5.27 FIP and an OPS over 1.000 against left-handed hitters, but has still managed to pitch in more games with the major league team than many of the alternatives. Still, it’s now September 22nd and Goody has not appeared in a game for 20 days. In the meantime, he was spotted throwing to hitters at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa just to stay ready. It’s pretty clear that, even with the bullpen’s recent fatigue, Joe Girardi has lost complete faith in the 25-year-old. Though the Yankees manager is still running out Chasen Shreve and Kirby Yates.

Obviously, baseball is a meritocracy, and Nick Goody has not been good enough to become a major part of their bullpen. He’s been just good enough for them to keep him around, but if he wants to hang on Goody will have to make a real impression. The rest of the season might not offer much chance, but spring training could be his last real shot to make something of himself with this team.

Hope?

Next spring there will be a laundry list of things he needs to work on to become a better pitcher. First and foremost will be for him to actually use the lower part of the strikezone with his fastball. He leaves many of them up in the zone where they can either be turned on or get called for balls. His slider is also all over the place, but has a tendency to end up right in the middle of the plate when it’s not falling off the chart.

Another issue is that his fastball velocity is inconsistent, going as high as 95 mph and dropping to 88 mph this year while fluctuating from start to start. It is leading to his slider being only 8 mph slower than his fastball when it should be about 10 mph or more.

The one adjustment he has made so far is his positioning on the mound. He once placed himself on the first base side of the rubber when he first got to the majors, but now he’s moved to be more in the middle, likely as some kind of effort to correct his struggles against lefties.

Goody has lost playing time to journeymen relievers likes Blake Parker and Tommy Layne. He has survived the class of relievers he came up with, but now he has the likes of Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder to compete with. If he wants to continue to get a chance with this team, he needs to figure out a way to separate himself from the pack.