The Yankees have relied on their depth repeatedly this season. Numerous young players have come up from the alternate site in Scranton for their major league debuts. Lets take a look at the initial impressions that these players have left, and if they figure into the Yankees postseason plans.
During the second game of the season with James Paxton struggling on the mound, Brooks Kriske and Nick Nelson were informed that they were about to be called up. Slowed by the COVID-19 delays that played havoc with the Yankees schedule early in the year, both players had to wait out a few days of schedule changes before working out with the team for the first time.
Kriske made his debut first pitching a scoreless ninth inning in a 9-3 win over Baltimore on July 29th. After being sent down in early August, Kriske was recalled at the end of the month only to get lit up for five earned runs in just 1.1 innings in a game that the Yankees came back to win over the Mets.
He has shown an ability to strike batters out, but has walked seven batters in just 3.2 innings of work. Last season he struggled with his walk rate in the minors and that will have to improve before he can carve out a consistent spot on the major league roster.
Nick Nelson followed Kriske a few days later with an electric debut against Boston, pitching three innings of no-hit ball. He currently has a negative WAR, and an ERA of 5.27, but that is largely related to one outing. In his other six games he pitched 12 innings and has given up just two earned runs.
Aaron Boone has not used Nelson much recently, but overall he looks like he has pitched his way onto the postseason roster. He can eat a couple of innings, and can get a strikeout when he needs to.
In a bit of a surprise, Albert Abreu was called up as the 29th man for the Yankees in a double header with the Tampa Bay Rays in early August. Long considered an outstanding prospect, Abreu has struggled to graduate to the major leagues. In 1.1 innings he showed the lack of command that has held him back as he walked two and hit a batter. His next appearance lasted just two pitches as he surrendered a walk-off home run to Pete Alonso in extra innings.
It is unlikely that Abreu will get another look this season, as other arms have moved up the depth chart and performed better. With no minor league options remaining following this season there is a chance that we have seen his only two games as a Yankee.
In another surprise move the Yankees called up Estevan Florial to be the 29th man of a double header against the Mets on August 28th. Once the Yankees top prospect, Florial entered the year coming off two straight injury shortened seasons. Those injuries had slowed his progress, meaning he had never played above High-A level of the minor leagues before getting called to the show.
In his introduction to the majors Florial performed very much on brand, striking out two times before getting a single for his first major league hit. Florial looked the part of a major league athlete, and showed why he is going to be given every chance to prove himself in the Yankees system.
The biggest impact of any Yankees rookie has come from Deivi García. Stepping into the rotation for the second game of a double header on August 30th, García delivered six of the best innings of any Yankees starter this season. He has backed it up in subsequent starts, and his 24.2 innings is the most of any Yankees starter over a four game stretch this season.
The only debate surrounding García’s postseason status is where he slots into the rotation. Showing the poise of a veteran, García has helped stabilize the Yankees rotation and figures to be there for years to come.
The day after García’s big league debut, the Yankees turned to Miguel Yajure out of the bullpen for some much needed innings. Yajure was coming off a season that saw him named the Yankees minor league pitcher of the year while finishing with Double-A Trenton.
Yajure has given the Yankees five innings while just allowing one earned run in two outings. Known for his command, he struggled by walking three during his first outing, but still kept Tampa off the board. Yajure is not the prototype of a power arm in the bullpen. He may get another look this year and has shown the ability to negotiate a big league lineup.
The Yankees top rated pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt followed with his debut on September 4th as part of a double header in Baltimore. After making just two relief appearances in his minor league career, he was put right into the fire coming out of the bullpen in relief of García.
Schmidt is another arm that could see more time this year. It does not feel like the Yankees have seen the best of him yet, and he may be getting lined up for a bigger role next season.
The Yankees have relied heavily on their young players this year. While they have reaped valuable contributions from some, not all of their youngsters have been up to the task. As the Yankees enter October, some players who had never pitched a major league inning before late July will be asked to step up big for the team.