Sometimes, the part of the roster that doesn’t draw any attention proves the most important. Year after year, there are at least a few teams that contain a player at the very bottom of their roster, a player so much an afterthought that they could be playing in Independent League in a year’s time, that all of the sudden becomes an important piece.
This very same article would probably have Chad Green on it last year, now one of the most important relievers on the team. Today we’re going to look at some pitchers who were on the team that were not stars in 2017, and some may never be, but could always pop up in the future.
Luis Cessa: Cessa was acquired as a part of the Justin Wilson trade along with Green. While Green has proven to be worth his weight in gold, Cessa is still coming along. I’ll say this: his ability to spot start and take on long relief has a modicum of value. Although his 4.75 ERA in 2017 was not stellar by any means, a collective 104 ERA- in 106.1 innings in pinstripes is not valueless. If and when injuries strike, Cessa will be called on again.
Caleb Smith: What’s very funny about Smith is that even though his value was almost null, just a 7.71 ERA in 18.2 innings, he just might help the Yankees get Shohei Ohtani. He was just traded to the Marlins along with Garrett Cooper for international bonus money, bringing the Yankees right next to the Rangers as second for their total pool. While Smith was not spectacular in pinstripes, his excellent minor league numbers mean he will definitely get a chance to pitch with the Fish.
Bryan Mitchell: Mitchell always seems like the guy that could be the Green breakout type, but it just never happens. Brian Cashman has held tight to him, rejecting multiple trades with his name contained within. He has always shown an intriguing fastball and curve combination, but the command has just never been there. This year he had an atrocious 131 ERA- in 32.2 innings, but I would imagine the Yankees will give him one more year to straighten it out before calling this venture lost.
Tyler Webb: Brian Cashman rightfully intended Webb to be a reliever they could use in any situation, trying to avoid the LOOGY status. I’d take that as a consolation, because Webb has yet to really prove himself, but I would argue he has the best chance of being a breakout in the future. Given his incredible Triple-A numbers—a 12.69 K/9 over 33.1 innings—even Steamer says he could strike out at least one batter per nine in the big leagues. He’ll try to win a bullpen spot with Milwaukee next season.
Tyler Clippard: Here’s another guy that had a huge effect on the team, in a negative way. He managed to get a World Series ring, by virtue of being on the Astros but being excluded from the playoff roster, and I would also argue he’s partially responsible for the Yankees losing the division. With a whopping 4.95 ERA and -1.11 WPA, his late-inning meltdowns contributed to their midseason slump. Good riddance.
Ronald Herrera: Herrera was another fringe player just traded, shipped to Texas in exchange for Reiver Sanmartin, a 40-man roster trade if I’ve ever seen one. It makes sense—the Yankees had no chance of protecting him, nor did they really want to. Herrera had a 6.00 ERA in just three innings, but his minor league numbers aren’t spectacular either; Steamer pegs him as a 4.80 ERA pitcher in 2018.
Giovanny Gallegos: Gallegos is yet another 2018 breakout candidate, and while not a likely one, definitely one I wouldn’t be shocked if he popped up. He throws a 94 mph fastball with a change at 87, and he had a Triple-A ERA right around 2.00. He pitched just 20.1 poor innings in the big leagues, but a good strikeout-to-walk ratio and good peripherals. With a 3.65 FIP, there’s a chance we see positive regression in 2018.
Tommy Layne: Layne is a perpetual team-hopper, and he didn’t even make it to the trade deadline with the Yankees. He was released on July 5th, signed by the Dodgers on the 19th, and then released by them on August 1st. He still does not have a team, which is weird, because even though he had a 173 ERA- in a short sample, he still has a career 87 ERA- and a 3.01 FIP split against left-handers. He will find a home.