When the revised start of the 2022 schedule was released and the Yankees were also rained out on Opening Day against Boston, they knew that they would be in a bit of an uncharacteristic marathon to start the season. They have played every day since Friday, April 8th, a span of 10 games in 10 days during a time in which their starting pitchers were not fully stretched out due to the owners’ lockout pushing back the start of spring training.
So to accommodate their starters, the Yankees decided to use 11 of their 28 roster spots on relievers (16 pitchers in total). This left them with a three-man bench of catcher Jose Trevino, utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, and whichever regular happened to be sitting that day — sometimes DJ LeMahieu, sometimes Gleyber Torres, etc. To the Yankees’ credit, their pitching staff has been brilliant to start the season with an MLB-best 2.23 ERA through nine games; the downside has been that the bench was pretty thin in support of a shaky bottom of the lineup.
Now with this 10-game stretch ending today and an off-day looming on Monday, the Yankees have made a small switch that perhaps indicates a sign of their general roster plan for the rest of April.
Outfielder Tim Locastro is in; reliever JP Sears is out.
Prior to today’s game, the Yankees recalled OF Tim Locastro (#33) from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) April 17, 2022
Following Saturday’s game, the Yankees optioned LHP JP Sears to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) April 17, 2022
The rookie Sears pitched perfectly fine in his two appearances, throwing scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on April 13th and the Orioles on April 16th. He just happened to be the odd man out since he worked last night and fellow rookie Ron Marinaccio’s stuff has been arguably more tantalizing. Sears will surely be back at some point in 2022 whenever the injury bug hits the Yankees’ bullpen.
This roster situation had to be a bit of a bummer for Locastro, who had signed a major league contract with New York in the offseason and in normal years, might well have made the Opening Day squad in Brett Gardner’s old role. Instead, he hit .313 with a .734 OPS in five games with Triple-A Scranton on opening week prior to the promotion. With a career OPS+ of 78 in 209 games, his bat’s not exactly Judgian or even Hicksian, but his speed and defense are excellent.
Locastro will be tested immediately, too, as he’s in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon as the Yankees go for a series victory in Baltimore:
Sunday Matinee with Nasty Nestor. #RepBX pic.twitter.com/QJCQGlICpZ— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 17, 2022
Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo both get days off in this alignment. Let’s hope that the promotion gives him some extra motivation in what looks to be a very light trio of Nos. 7-9 hitters.