When the Yankees signed righty reliever Ian Hamilton to a minor league contract back in November with an invitation to spring training, he had 14.2 uninspiring innings at the big league level from 2018-22 to his name. A scary eye injury had curtailed his career, but there’s a reason why he wasn’t really on anyone’s radar.
But with the help of his unusual slider/changeup hybrid, the “slambio,” Hamilton impressed in camp and eventually caught on with the big league bullpen. Suddenly, the once-unheralded NRI became one of the best weapons in manager Aaron Boone’s toolkit. He posted a 1.23 ERA, 1.76 FIP, and 1.091 WHIP in 16 games and 22 innings, fanning 30 batters without allowing a single homer. The slambio turned out to be a hellacious out pitch.
Back on May 16th though, Hamilton suffered a right groin strain during an outing in Toronto and landed on the injured list. The bullpen (buoyed by changeup specialist Tommy Kahnle’s own return) has done more than a fine job of holding the fort in Hamilton’s absence, but he’s ready to return to high-leverage spots. After three rehab appearances with Double-A Somerset, the 28-year-old joined the Yankees on their road trip and was officially activated today.
The corresponding move for Hamilton’s activation was the demotion of last night’s starter, Jhony Brito. He took a hard-luck loss in Oakland, having allowed just a pair of runs in 5.2 innings of otherwise-solid ball, but the offense didn’t support him at all against an underwhelming A’s pitching staff. Brito’s not really getting a demotion for poor performance; it’s more to ensure that they don’t have to make any unnecessary 40-man roster cuts. The Yankees will need a No. 5 starter for Sunday, July 2nd, but they can call up the similarly capable Randy Vásquez at that time and decide on a bullpen move then.
The official transaction is announced in the Yankees’ tweet below.
Following last night’s game, the Yankees optioned RHP Jhony Brito to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) June 28, 2023
Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees returned from rehab and reinstated RHP Ian Hamilton (#71) from the 15-day injured list.