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The unfortunate Yankee career of Paul Mirabella

Paul Mirabella had a very brief career with the Yankees, and it didn’t go great.

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

In November 1978, the Yankees traded Sparky Lyle and others to the Rangers. In return, they received five players, most notably Dave Righetti. Another pitcher they got in return was Paul Mirabella.

Mirabella was drafted by the Rangers in 1976, and made his major league debut on July 28, 1978. He threw 7.2 innings and got the win against the White Sox. He ended the 1978 season with a 5.79 ERA in 28 innings.

After the trade, Mirabella made his first appearance for the Yankees pretty early in the 1979 season. He made his debut on April 10th. After Goose Gossage blew a save in eighth, Mirabella came in after Gossage loaded the bases in the ninth. He allowed a single, and was removed before he could face another batter.

The following day, Mirabella again made an appearance late in the game. Again Gossage blew a save, and Mirabella came in after the Yankees’ closer made a mess of things the following inning. This time Mirabella got a fly out, but was again taken out. Dick Tidrow came in and allowed a single to lose the game.

Two days later, Mirabella allowed one unearned run in two innings of work. On April 14th, he threw 4.1 scoreless innings. Through his first four games, Mirabella had a 0.00 ERA in 6.2 innings. He had allowed four hits and two walks in his Yankee career to that point. That was when things started to go downhill.

On April 19th, Mirabella came in after Luis Tiant allowed three runs in 2.1 innings. He allowed three runs in four innings, which made the difference in a 6-3 loss to the Orioles.

Mirabella didn’t make another appearance until ten days later. Tommy John exited the game after 7.1 innings with the Yankees up 5-3. Mirabella got out of things in the eighth, but came back out for the ninth. Despite getting two outs, he walked two hitters and allowed a single, loading the bases. He was taken out after that, and Ron Davis would allowed all three runners to score, all charged to Mirabella.

In three appearances in May, Mirabella allowed five runs in a total of 1.2 innings. After having a 0.00 ERA through April 14th, it was up to 7.24 after May 7th.

Mirabella would spend some time in Triple-A after that. In 144 innings with Columbus, Mirabella had a 3.88 ERA. He came back up in September, reappearing in a game on September 18th. Mirabella would be the starting pitcher on September 18th. He allowed two home runs and three runs in 0.2 innings and was taken out before the inning was over.

That would be his last appearance of the season. He finished with a 8.79 ERA and 1.814 WHIP. He walked ten batters and struck out just four. Mirabella managed to accumulate -1.3 Baseball Reference WAR in just 14.1 innings. Every Yankee pitcher with a worse career WAR did so in at least triple the innings.

After the season, Mirabella and Chris Chambliss were traded to the Blue Jays. In 1980, he made 22 starts for the Blue Jays, and put up a perfectly average 100 ERA+ in 130.2 innings.

Mirabella would go on to have a 13-year major league career. Following his time with the Yankees, he would have some success as a mostly a reliever. His best season came with the Brewers in 1988, putting up a 1.65 ERA in 60 innings.

Paul Mirabella’s numbers with the Yankees were not good. It’s hard to argue that he had any success as a Yankee. He also ran into some back luck, and was probably better than his Yankees’ WAR figures illustrate.


All data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index