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Yankees 2024 Season Preview: Scott Effross

After a year away with injury, can Effross return to form in the Yankees’ bullpen?

Boston Red Sox v. New York Yankees Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

With the Yankees’ bullpen showing signs of wear and tear down the stretch of the 2022 season, they made a move as part of their trade deadline to bring in reliever Scott Effross from the Cubs, in exchange for well-regarded pitching prospect Hayden Wesneski.

Over 12.2 innings down the stretch of 2022, Effross looked pretty solid, putting up a 2.13 ERA in 13 appearances. However, late in the year, he went down with an injury. It was eventually revealed that he required Tommy John surgery, which knocked him not only out of the 2022 postseason, but out of the entire 2023 season.

Well, now we’re into 2024. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, he’s reportedly on track to get back and have a normal spring training this year. Should that be the case, what should the Yankees expect out of Effross this coming season?

2022 Stats (Missed of all 2023): 60 G, 56.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 3.18 xFIP, 1.06 WHIP, 9.85 K/9, 2.38 BB/9, 0.48 HR/9, 1.3 fWAR

2024 ZiPS Projections: 60 G, 60.0 IP, 4.00 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 8.40 K/9, 2.20 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9, 0.3 fWAR

One thing that obviously has to be taken into account is Effross’ injury and the fact that he will be returning to the mound for the first time in over a year this season. As baseball fans, we’ve seen plenty of success stories over the years of pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery. By no means does the time missed mean that he will be unreliable out of the ‘pen this season. He certainly could struggle as well, but there’s just as good a chance that could happen out of normal reliever variance.

The one thing that may be limited is Effross’ inning count. You would think that maybe won’t be as affected, as he’s a reliever. Teams almost always take it slower with starting pitchers coming back from TJ, but ideally that won’t be an issue with the pitcher who would probably max out in the 60ish innings pitched range anyway.

As you can see from his ZiPS projections and others out there, Effross isn’t quite projected to be a dominant shutdown reliever. If he pitches to them, a 4.00 ERA might not be horrible in the grand scheme of the league, but it’s not ideal for a reliever that the Yankees may have to use occasionally in high leverage situations.

It does have to be noted that ZiPS and the other projection systems arguably underrate Effross a bit, possibly due to his lack of a long track record in the majors. He may be 30, but Effross has only actually appeared in two MLB seasons, making his debut back in 2021. His career numbers of a 2.78 ERA and a 2.63 FIP are very strong, but at only 71.1 career innings pitched, it’s not shocking that he’s not yet projected to keep that up. However, it also wouldn’t be shocking if he did. He has been pretty good so far in his career at not giving up hard contact.

Baseball Savant

Despite all that, thanks to the comeback from injury and the general reliever variance, there are very few types of season that Effross could have in 2024 that would be entirely unpredictable. If they ever actually seal the deal on one of the relievers they’ve been rumored to get, it’s unlikely that Effross will start the season in an extremely high leverage usage role. It also seems entirely plausible that he gets there by the end of the season, though.

Update

Welp. On the day of pitchers and catchers reporting, Boone noted that Effross won’t be around until summer due to back surgery. So it’ll be awhile until he’s able to rejoin the Yankees bullpen.