Today was always supposed to be a bullpen game for the Yankees. Unfortunately, last night turned into one as well, as the Bombers used five relievers after an ineffective James Paxton departed from the game in the second inning.
The Yankees needed fresh arms, so they called up Nick Nelson and Brooks Kriske from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. To make room on the 30-man roster, the club optioned Clint Frazier and Ben Heller to the alternate training site.
Both Nelson and Kriske impressed in spring training and summer camp. Nelson, a fourth-round pick by the Yankees in the 2016 MLB Draft, flashed impressive velocity in his exhibition outings. The 24-year-old pitched across three levels last year, primarily at Double-A Trenton, and managed a cumulative 2.81 ERA (3.22 FIP). For primers on Nelson, I recommend these stories by Dan Kelly and Andrés Chávez.
One of Nelson’s rotation mates in Trenton, Kriske had a successful 2019 season, pitching to a 2.08 ERA (2.69 FIP) between High-A and Double-A. The 26-year-old added a splitter to his repertoire in 2019, and combined with improved velocity, he emerged as a prime call-up candidate for the Yankees.
It’s a tough break for Frazier, who hit the cover off the ball in summer camp. An adjusted stance appeared to lessen the noise in his lower half, making his “legendary bat speed” the focus of his swing. He became the victim of the roster, though, and now he won’t be eligible for recall for the next ten days.
Heller, meanwhile, pitched in last night’s game. He faced four batters and allowed a home run in his only inning of work.