Last week MLB announced that they would test a new extra innings rule in the lowest levels of the minor leagues this year. The rule would automatically place a runner on second base at the start of extra innings, with the goal being that games will be shorter. When discussing the idea behind the rule change, Joe Torre said “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch.” Alternative opinion: it is always fun to watch utility infielders pitch! The only real exception being that you wouldn’t want to see this happen to your team during the postseason.
The reality is that teams don’t encounter this situation very frequently at all. Only nine Yankee position players have been called upon to pitch since 1991, and the team didn’t have to use a position player as a pitcher at all last season. Let’s remember some of the Yankees non-pitchers who found themselves on the mound over the past 10 years.
Brendan Ryan - August 25, 2015
For the most part, the Yankees usually only use position players as pitchers in blowout games. That was the case on August 25, 2015, when the Yankees trailed the Astros 15-0 in the 8th inning. After appearances by Ivan Nova, Nick Rumbelow, and Chris Capuano, Joe Girardi turned to Brendan Ryan to finish the last two innings of the game.
Ryan later expressed that he couldn’t be that happy because they lost 15-1, but that he was able to cross the experience off of his bucket list. Although he didn’t earn a strikeout, he only gave up two hits across the two innings, and he was pleased to see Colby Rasmus swing and miss once.
Garrett Jones - May 23, 2015
CC Sabathia started the game on May 23, 2015, and he didn’t make it out of the third inning. The Yankees surrendered a whopping 10 runs between Sabathia and Esmil Rogers in just one inning. Brandon Pinder gave up two more runs for good measure. Losing 15-2, Girardi sent Garrett Jones out to start the ninth inning. He topped out at 80 MPH, but he got Leonys Martin to swing and miss. He also hit Martin, and walked a batter, but he ended up being the only Yankee pitcher who didn’t give up a hit or a run that day.
Dean Anna - April 19, 2014
This makes two games that Ivan Nova started that ended with a position player pitching. The Yankees were down in Tampa on April 19, 2014, when Nova surrendered eight runs (and FOUR home runs) through four innings pitched. Matt Daley made matters worse, and the Yankees were trailing by 14 runs when Dean Anna got the nod in the eighth inning. He did not have the same luck as some of his fellow Yankees, but his first two pitches to James Loney were strikes! He went on to give up two singles, a double, and two runs before the inning ended. I will always remember him because of this outing.
Alberto Gonzalez - May 15, 2013
The Mariners were in town on May 15, 2013, and Phil Hughes started the game. Things immediately went downhill after Hughes gave up a three-run homer to Raul Ibanez in the first inning. He went on to surrender seven runs and did not make it out of the first inning. Preston Claiborne pitched two and one-third scoreless innings before handing the ball to Brett Marshall. Girardi must have been hoping that Marshall could get the Yankees through the rest of the game, but he was up to 108 pitches when he was pulled with two outs in the ninth inning. Alberto Gonzalez only needed five pitches to get a fly out to end the inning.
Dewayne Wise - June 29, 2012
There are not too many players left on the current 2017 team who were also around in 2012, but Adam Warren is one of them. He started this game against the White Sox and gave up six runs before the third inning ended. David Phelps, Clay Rapada, and Cory Wade also pitched. After a clean eighth inning, Wade fell apart in the ninth. He surrendered three doubles, two singles, and four runs, giving the White Sox a 14-7 lead. The Yankees finally turned to Dewayne Wise for the final two outs of the game. He got Paul Konerko to fly out, and Alex Rios to ground out to end the game.
Nick Swisher - April 13, 2009
Chien-Ming Wang started this game for the Yankees and gave up eight earned runs without recording a single out in the second inning. Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, and Phil Coke combined to surrender four more earned runs (seven more runs total). The bullpen was depleted at that point, and Girardi was looking for an arm when Nick Swisher volunteered to pitch. Swisher walked a batter, gave up a single, and struck out Gabe Kapler before the inning ended. After the game, Swisher expressed a sentiment similar to what Brendan Ryan said above. “I had fun with it. I mean, when am I ever going to have the chance to do that again? Probably never.”