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The Yankees’ pitching depth is about to be tested again

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Crucial injuries are leaving the Yankees’ pitching corps exposed at the worst possible time.

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Your 2021 New York Yankees have allowed the seventh-fewest runs per game (4.1) among MLB teams. They have also conceded the fifth-fewest hits, at 7.5, and have the fourth-lowest collective ERA, at 3.70. They are fourth in WHIP (1.18) and K/9 (9.70) too.

The fact that they have been able to achieve those rankings in a wild year with three COVID-19 outbreaks, long-term injury-related absences by Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, Mike King, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo Germán, Zack Britton, Darren O’Day, and now Jonathan Loáisiga; plus shorter injury-list stints by Gerrit Cole, Clay Holmes, Jordan Montgomery, Néstor Cortés Jr., Aroldis Chapman, and Wandy Peralta is absolutely outstanding.

The Yankees recently lost Britton to Tommy John surgery, Cole to a hamstring issue, Loaisiga to a rotator cuff ailment, and Taillon with a partial right ankle tendon tear. Cole is expected to return on Tuesday, but there is no official timetable for the other former Pittsburgh Pirate. Loaisiga’s status is up in the air and will depend on his progression in these next few days.

Once again, the Yankees’ overall pitching depth is about to be tested, with a postseason spot on the line, no less. Five teams are fighting over two Wild Card spots in the American League, and they are all separated by no more than three games as of Friday afternoon.

Guys like Michael King, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil, Albert Abreu, and Stephen Ridings, if he can get healthy (he hasn’t pitched since August 15th due to an elbow injury) will likely be needed. Even the last part of the major league pitching depth could be relied upon at some point: Nick Nelson, Brooks Kriske, Andrew Heaney, and maybe even Deivi García, even though he has had a 2021 to forget.

Yes, relying on some of those pitchers in the last group sounds like a risky proposition, but injuries will do that: expose your depth. So far, the numbers say the Yankees have been able to navigate through the situation, as the team’s primary problem appears to be run production, not prevention.

There may be another alternative down in Triple-A that hasn’t been tried yet: Adam Warren. A Yankee for most of his career, he is a well-known commodity amongst fans, but he is a 34-year-old reliever who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2019. It also sounds like the Yankees are getting in their own way by continually skipping the veteran when they need a pitcher from Triple-A.

They have opted for guys like Nelson, Kriske, and Abreu instead, so it appears they have their pecking order set and something catastrophic would need to happen for them to alter their plans. Manager Aaron Boone was recently asked why Warren hasn’t been called up yet. Per Max Goodman of SI.com:

“That’s been the pecking order to this point as far as who has put themselves in the situation to be the guy we call up. It hasn’t been Adam yet”.

It’s somewhat puzzling, then, that the team elects to call up, say, Kriske or Nelson, when Warren has a 2.82 ERA in Triple-A. It hasn’t always been smooth, since he does have a 4.76 BB/9 mark in 51 frames down in Scranton, but at least he has loads of major league experience, even in big spots. He deserves, at least, a shot.

In any case, this is the time to shine for the aforementioned pitchers. All of them. The organization needs them to contribute at least some decent innings to hold the staff together. It’s time to perform. Most of them could be pitching for a chance to be part of the Yankees’ future.