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Ask Pinstripe Alley 5/13/18: Bullpen usage, top prospects, trade candidates

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The answers to your Yankees mailbag have arrived.

Ask Pinstripe Alley

Last week, I asked you for any Yankees questions on your mind. You responded by sending in nearly a dozen submissions! While I can’t get to them all this afternoon, I will try my best. Don’t feel bad if I missed yours. Another editor could get to it later in the week.

YardCockRock asks: With the injuries to Adam Warren, Tommy Kahnle, and Jordan Montgomery, plus shorter performances from the staff as a whole aside from Luis Severino, is the Yankee bullpen being overworked so far this season? Last I heard David Robertson was on pace for his most innings ever.

Including Sunday afternoon’s game, the Yankees received 148 innings from their bullpen this season. That ranks in the lower third of all of baseball. It’s worked out so far, considering the club’s 28 - 12 record. That said, this pace is probably unsustainable. Aaron Boone runs the risk of exhausting his relievers to the point where they lose effectiveness down the stretch. As you mentioned, Robertson is on pace to exceeded his career-high in innings, set just last year. Not great!

The good news is that help is on the way.

Hoch also mentioned that Kahnle could be back during the series with the Texas Rangers. Adding those two would do wonders to lengthen the bullpen. They would take the middle innings, saving Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and the rest of the top arms for the endgame. I suppose the Yankees could also get more length from the starters, but that’s unlikely considering the trends across baseball. It’s far more realistic they make up the innings with other relievers.

Brandon asks: What does the Yankees’ top prospects list look like now with Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Domingo German being pulled up?

Technically speaking, two of the three remain prospects. According to rookie eligibility rules, only Andujar has graduated from the prospect lists. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that these three will stick and lose their prospect status. The Yankees still have a strong farm system, complete with depth and impact talent.

Estevan Florial takes over as the number one prospect, while Justus Sheffield moves into the number two spot. Chance Adams has seen his stock fall, but Luis Medina and Frecier Perez likely enter the discussion. Even without the players you mentioned, the Bombers have a ridiculous system stocked with top prospects. Brian Cashman has created a self-regenerating pipeline and it may be his greatest accomplishment.

Peter asks: Boone said he isn’t thinking about moving Didi Gregorius in the order right now, but what is the best lineup for the Yankees when Greg Bird returns?

Bird is on the mend. He’s playing in rehab games with High-A Tampa. He probably needs to get another spring training worth of at-bats before being game ready, so that gives the Yankees two to three weeks to construct a lineup. How would something like this look?

  1. Brett Gardner
  2. Aaron Judge
  3. Didi Gregorius
  4. Giancarlo Stanton
  5. Gary Sanchez
  6. Greg Bird
  7. Aaron HIcks
  8. Miguel Andujar
  9. Gleyber Torres

A lot of variables can change. Brandon Drury could get activated, which would likely spell a trip to Scranton for Andujar. Gregorius’ slump could also send him down in the order, especially as Stanton heats up. Maybe Torres works his way up as Gardner and Hicks continue to struggle. For now, I like inserting Bird in the middle of the lineup, but without putting a ton of pressure on him. Let him take his time, and soon enough, he can move up.

Jason asks: Given the Yankees’ luxury tax goal, what are realistic mid-season trade targets for a starting pitcher?

It’s funny, the Yankees saved a significant portion of their budget in case they needed to absorb a large contract at the trade deadline. Right now, it’s tough to see what impact talent will become available. Madison Bumgarner is the dream target for fans, but the Giants have given no indication of selling. They give off 2013 - 2014 Yankees vibes, where they improbably buy when they definitely should be selling.

The names you heard connected to the Yankees in the offseason, Michael Fulmer and Chris Archer, will likely remain the team’s top targets. The front office did the groundwork and liked them enough to make offers over the winter. I don’t see that changing come the deadline. Maybe another team falls out of it and puts an ace up for grabs, but it’s too early to tell. It’s going to be a fascinating July, that’s for sure.