Chase Whitley was a nice surprise in 2014, but like most surprises in baseball, it wasn't meant to last. The shine has worn off and now we're left with a pitcher who is far beyond any threshold he's hit before, and with a 5.51 ERA and 4.20 FIP, it's time to end the Chase Whitley experience. At least for 2014.
At one point Whitley seemed like a revelation. Through his first six starts he had a 2.41 ERA in 33.2 innings, and though that was not likely to last, it was exactly what the Yankees needed from someone who wasn't even on the radar last year. His success culminated in a pair of back-to-back starts in mid-June where he pitched at least seven innings and allowed only two runs on five hits. Unfortunately, it all came to an end after that as he went on to put up a 9.43 ERA through the All-Star break. It was clear that fatigue was starting to set in as he went from throwing around 14 pitches per inning during his successful six appearances to about 20 pitches per inning when he began to struggle. He started hitting his pitch limit in the third inning and only once did he make it through five between June 18 and July 13.
After returning from the All-Star break and an eight-day reprieve, Whitley came back with a seven-hit shutout of the Rangers over six innings. He showed that he could still be effective if given the proper rest, but by then the Yankees knew they had to find a better solution, so they acquired Chris Capuano and Whitley was placed in the bullpen. It seemed like he could at least perform the duties of a long reliever, able to eat up multiple innings and possibly keep the team in the game, but instead he's been used sparingly and when he has been used he hasn't been very good. He now has a 14.21 ERA in just 6.1 innings since his last start.
It's pretty clear that at this point Whitley just doesn't belong in the majors anymore. He's well past his high water mark in terms of innings and pitches thrown, which makes it fairly obvious that he's just too worn out to contribute at the major league level. He's already matched his innings total from 2013, but if you add his 26.1 innings from the minors, he's currently at 93.1 innings. Last year he threw a total of 1037 pitches, while this year, taking his time in Triple-A into account, he's thrown 1,534, which is a vast increase in workload for someone who hasn't been a starter for very long.
It would be one thing if Whitley was maintaining some level of success and was some integral part of the pitching staff, whether in the bullpen or rotation, but that's just not happening. He's become not just a liability at this point, but also a waste of a roster space. It's time to demote him and give him a breather. The Yankees have the prospects that should make this choice a no-brainer. Bring up someone like Nick Rumbelow, who has been actually successful for most of the year and let Whitley recover for next year, where he might be able to help in any number of roles. Let's avoid an injury as well as a situation that's just going to make this team's uphill battle even more difficult.