Asher Wojciechowski, we hardly knew ye.
The Yankees have really taxed their pitching staff since the second half began last Friday, and the cast of characters coming out of the bullpen has been peculiar to say the least, even at the start of ballgames. Wojciechowski was the team’s surprise starter on Wednesday night against the Phillies, and it seemed like a long shot that he would stick around.
Wojciechowski coughed up a first-pitch homer to Jean Segura, though to his credit, he successfully walked the tightrope for four innings of two-run ball, keeping the Yankees in the game just long enough to hand it over to the bullpen that did its job (outside of a very shaky eighth). Still, it was pretty clear that the 32-year-old had not unlocked any secret talent to survive.
The Yankees are hopeful to restore some more familiar names from the COVID-IL to their pitching staff soon, but in the meantime, they did need a fresh arm. So out goes Wojciechowski, who was designated for assignment on Thursday afternoon.
In comes another veteran who the Yankees picked up on a minor league deal earlier in 2021: Sal Romano. The 27-year-old right-hander has pitched five seasons with the Reds, and if he gets into a game, this will be his first appearance in any other big league uniform. He’s only made it into 28 games since 2019, and he’s been rocked to a 6.10 ERA and 5.85 FIP in 38.1 innings. The Reds cut him loose in May of this year, but in 23.1 innings for Triple-A Scranton in 2021, Romano has a 3.47 ERA and 3.32 FIP. He’s not a strikeout artist, but he won’t walk many batters at least (1.9 BB/9).
Here’s a little more on Romano from Lucas Apostoleris of Baseball Prospectus:
Sal Romano's a sinker/slider guy who's shown extreme groundball tendencies with Scranton this year, though his rates over his MLB career are more like league-average. Also, he's gone 2IP in six of his SWB outings this year, so he could give the Yankees some innings, perhaps.— Lucas (@DBITLefty) July 22, 2021
In a perfect world, Aaron Boone doesn’t even have to think about Romano until he’s off the roster in favor of a Jonathan Loaisiga or Nestor Cortes Jr. But we’ll see.
The Yankees later revealed some updates about the players affected by COVID. Third baseman Gio Urshela and reliever Jonathan Loaisiga appear to be on track for activation by the end of the weekend, and Aaron Judge and Kyle Higashioka have their eyes on returning in time for the road series against the Rays that begins on Tuesday. Cortes is also a possibility for the latter games in Boston, though he may just rejoin the team at the Trop, too.
Additionally, there may be some hope on the horizon for the rotation. Luis Severino is on target for a fresh rehab assignment after his previous attempt to return post-Tommy John surgery hit an unexpected bump with a groin strain.
Luis Severino tossed from a bullpen mound today. He’s set for a live BP on Saturday, then could begin a minor league rehab assignment.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 22, 2021