Late after the Yankees game last night, the team announced that first baseman Mike Ford was going to be demoted to Triple-A Scranton. It was a move that was long overdue, as Ford hadn’t hit a lick since coming up to replace the retired Jay Bruce. Through 22 games, he’d hit just .133/.278/.283 with three homers and a 63 wRC+. That wasn’t getting the job done by any stretch of the definition.
So when the move was made official, some speculated that this might be the time for the Yankees to call up Scranton first baseman Chris Gittens, who was electric in the first month of the minor league season, batting .256/.475/.605 with four homers and a 190 wRC+ in 15 games.
However, Gittens isn’t getting the call — not yet anyway. For now, the Yankees will replace Ford with reliever Brooks Kriske. From a certain point of view, it makes some sense. The bullpen has had to do a lot of work over the past several days thanks to short starts from the current members of the rotation.
Busy night for the bullpen last night, and with Peralta/Luetge/Cessa all pitching back-to-back days, Brooks Kriske is up from Triple-A to give the Yanks an extra arm (Mike Ford was sent down)— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) June 2, 2021
Kriske pitched last night for the RailRiders, but only 10 pitches in a scoreless inning pic.twitter.com/xN2eJiHoSY
Albert Abreu wasn’t an option since he was demoted just a few days ago, so in comes Kriske, who threw just 10 pitches last night in Scranton. He has not pitched well at either level this year, but, well, he’s fresh. If he pitches at all tonight, then that means something went wrong. Zack Britton is rehabbing this evening for the Somerset Patriots, so he’ll ideally be able to provide some bullpen reinforcement sometime soon (though manager Aaron Boone noted that he’ll probably need “four to six” rehab appearances).
The Yankees will play with a short three-man bench, and with Ford gone, will have to use either DJ LeMahieu or the inexperienced Miguel Andújar at first base. They might simply be waiting for Gittens to get rolling again, as he only just returned from the paternity list and is 1-for-12 in four games (albeit with five walks).
Still, Kriske isn’t a real long-term bullpen solution and the team needs a first baseman, so hopefully they give Gittens a shot sooner rather than later. If the Yankees are even remotely considering him an option, they need to just use him and see what they have. If he struggles, he struggles, but at least then they’ll know. In the meantime, uh, enjoy the artistic pitching stylings of Brooks Kriske.