Following Thursday night’s victory against the Rays, the Yankees announced that they optioned first baseman Tyler Austin to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. This represents the corresponding move for right-handed pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga, who will join the team on Friday.
Austin, 26, hit .223/.280/.471 across 132 plate appearances to date. He swatted eight home runs, giving him a 101 wRC+ on the year. Those numbers don’t tell the entire story, though. Since May 1st he owns a .140/.167/.298 batting line with a dreadful 18 wRC+. He became completely unplayable.
Despite his struggles, Austin remained on the roster when the Yankees activated Greg Bird from the disabled list. In a surprising turn of events, the club optioned utility infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A. The front office valued Austin’s potential as a lefty-mashing hitter, but he never lived up to that reputation after April. When faced with another roster move, the club decided to send him to Scranton.
Perhaps Austin’s biggest moment of the season had nothing to do with his baseball talent. On April 11th, he was the focus of a benches-clearing brawl between the Yankees and Red Sox. You remember that as the time Joe Kelly drilled him in retaliation for a hard slide earlier in the game. The fracas earned Austin a suspension and a place in The Rivalry’s folklore.
Hopefully regular playing time will get Austin right. He’s easy enough to root for, after all. In the meantime, the club will turn from one rookie to another in their pursuit of the Red Sox.