Andrew Bailey was once one of the best young relievers in the game, but injuries took him apart and put him on the shelf for over a year. The Yankees signed him in 2014, but he never got to pitch, so they brought him back in 2015, hoping to get something from the former Rookie of the Year at an extremely discounted price. After dominating in the minors, and with several months of hype from fans, they finally got something out of him...it just wasn't exactly what they were hoping to get.
After suffering a torn capsule and a labrum tear in 2013, he's fortunate to still be able to throw a baseball. However, like Chien-Ming Wang before him, it could still mean that the Andrew Bailey we used to know is gone. After Wang tore his capsule in 2009, he missed an entire season, just like Bailey, and when he returned in 2011, he looked pretty solid. A 3.14 ERA and 1.3 BB/9 in 28.2 innings between four different levels seemed pretty acceptable, except this was a major league pitcher facing kids in their late-teens and early-20s. Even if he was damaged, he's going to find a way to get by. This is likely why he reached the majors and pitched to a 6.13 ERA over the next three years before major league teams gave up on him. His weaknesses and deficiencies were exposed and the same thing seems to be happening to Andrew Bailey now.
This season, Bailey dominated the minors with a 1.67 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 10.8 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9 in 35 innings between rookie ball, High-A Tampa, Double-A, and Triple-A. He looked awesome then and people said he needed to be up in the major league bullpen to act as another backend weapon.
I have 1 question why isnt Andrew Bailey in the Yankees Bullpen? His numbers are good this year— Nathan Adams (@nathann_adamss) July 29, 2015
With all due respect to Bryan Mitchell, a now healthy Andrew Bailey is thriving in the minors. Better option for #Yankees bullpen— Matt Mirro (@Mirro_The_Ronin) July 11, 2015
He finally got the call on September 1, and for the first time in two years, Andrew Bailey was a major league pitcher. After everything he had been through, it was great to see him finally reach what he worked so hard for, but he soon made it clear why the Yankees weren't really in a rush to call him up. In his first appearances he walked two and allowed a hit to give up a run, then on the 11th he allowed a solo home run to Russell Martin in a game that ended up being an 11-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Then on the 23rd, he allowed another home run to Martin, this time a three-run shot in a 1-0 game in the seventh inning to seal the lead. Overall, he's put up a 7.50 ERA and an 8.14 FIP in the admittedly short sample size of just six innings, but the thing is that this is a pennant race and that's all we have to care about right now. Maybe Bailey would be serviceable over several months, but he only has two weeks and right now he isn't helping.
His velocity has been erratic. Only down to an average of 93.2 mph compared to his career average of 94, but he's reached just 95 so far, compared to his career max of 98.
He's also getting crushed by right-handed hitters, allowing five hits–two home runs–and three walks against them in 3.2 innings. And his release point is out of whack:
He seems to be leaning to the left a bit toward the first base side and it could be the reason he's not really throwing to the right side of the plate:
He's been pitching all year, so it can't be rust. It's likely that, because of the surgery, he can't move his arm like he used to and he's trying to create as much leverage as possible, so he's leaning more so he can catapult the ball over the plate. It's all just a short amount of time, but the Yankees had months to watch him throw in the minors and they likely spotted more than just these changes. Sometimes it comes down to more than just stats, sometimes guys are just skating by and then they get exposed. Maybe Bailey will rebound and restart his career as a reliable reliever, but a more likely scenario is that he will go the way of Chien-Ming Wang and will eventually fall into minor league deal obscurity. We'll see, but the Andrew Bailey you're watching right now is why it took so long to call him up.