Much praise has been given to the Yankees’ lineup, and deservedly so. Their pitching corps, however, has also done exceedingly well this season. According to fWAR, the Yankees’ pitching staff has generated the second-most value in the major leagues, trailing only the Astros and their embarrassment of riches.
That said, this shouldn’t be taken as evidence that the Yankees don’t need pitching help. In fact, it should be considered a minor miracle that they’re doing so well, despite losing Jordan Montgomery and Masahiro Tanaka due to injuries, plus dealing with bouts of ineffectiveness from Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia. The main reason that they are, save from Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga looking like credible MLB starters, is their incredible bullpen corps.
Now, I probably don’t need to remind you of how good the Yankees’ relievers are. With AJ Cole on the 10-day DL with a neck strain and Chasen Shreve being bad, the Bombers risk being understaffed in the short term, with a shortage of reliable options to cover the middle innings.
This is where the Yankees’ enviable organizational relief pitching depth can come in handy, and there’s one pitcher in particular who deserves a look in MLB. His name is Cody Carroll.
I highlighted Carroll in an earlier piece about Yankee reliever prospects of note as part of Pinstripe Alley’s draft coverage. Here’s what I had to say about him then:
If you’re only going to remember one name from this article, let it be Cody Carroll. Carroll, a 25-year-old, 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-handed pitcher, made a name for himself last year when he posted a 2.66 ERA and 3.42 FIP in 47.1 Double-A innings, striking out 11.22 batters per nine. A well-earned promotion hasn’t slowed Carroll down by the least, as he currently owns a 2.08 ERA and 2.28 FIP in 21.2 innings pitched in Triple-A, with a 12.46 K/9 to boot.
Carroll succeeds with a fastball-slider combo, which sounds conventional but makes sense when you learn that 1) his fastball sits 96-98 and touches 101 MPH, and 2) his slider has the depth of a curveball with more velocity. The only concern here is control, as Carroll has posted a BB/9 above 4 in each of his last two seasons. If Carroll is able to throw more strikes after additional seasoning in Triple-A, look for him to make the big league club this year as an impact bullpen reinforcement.
It’s been about three weeks since that article ran, and Carroll hasn’t stopped impressing. Although his ERA has risen to a still-good 2.84 mark due to a three-run outing on June 16, he’s actually lowered his FIP to 2.18 due to not having allowed a single homer yet. In addition, it appears that he’s made strides in his strike-throwing abilities, as he’s brought his BB/9 down from 3.88 to 3.69, with just four walks combined in his last 10 outings (14 innings pitched).
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Carroll has little more to prove in the minors, and I’d bet that he could at least be more effective than Shreve as of right now. Now, the fact that Shreve is the only remaining lefty in the Yankees’ bullpen outside of Aroldis Chapman might lead some to feel apprehensive about cutting him, but it’s not like Shreve has been able to neutralize lefties this year — or anyone else, for that matter. If the Yankee are looking for another effective reliever, they should part ways with Chasen Shreve and make room for Cody Carroll.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and MiLB.com.