The Yankees bullpen has gone from being the team's biggest strength to one of the team's most tumultuous assets, especially now that closer Andrew Miller has hit the disabled list. Perhaps its most maligned member was Esmil Rogers, who was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton after last night's game. With Ivan Nova pitching well in his rehab assignment this week, and seemingly ready to return any week now, someone had to go. I don't think it's even debatable that the odd man out was going to be Esmil Rogers, but let's debate it anyway, because debate is what separates us from the animals.
First of all, why Esmil? Well, after a scintillating April, during which he pitched to a 2.35 ERA and struck out 16 batters in 15.1 innings, the wheels fell off. Hell, I don't even want to stop at the wheels. Rogers lost the wheels, the axles, the steering column and even the bucket seats! I don't even think he had the little Christmas tree air freshener around his rearview mirror anymore. He absolutely stunk up the mound over the last month or so. In May, he pitched 15 2/3 innings, virtually the same amount as April, but the results were the complete opposite: 21 hits, 13 earned runs, three home runs, an alarming ten walks and an ERA of 7.47. 747s are what you fly in after the game, not what your ERA should be.
Let's break it down with a little more detail. At one point, Rogers allowed runs in four straight outings. He followed that one up with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, which made you think maybe he could turn things around, but then he allowed seven runs in three sacrificial innings against Texas on May 23rd. Things got even worse in June. In his first June outing, Rogers came into a game in the ninth inning of an 8-1 game, got nobody out and ended up giving up five runs on four hits and a walk. He didn't pitch again until last night, when the Orioles touched him up for four runs on five hits in just two innings of work. There's no room on a major league roster for a guy that gets shelled once a week, unless he's in the rotation and getting paid $23 million (Hyoooo. Just kidding. CC's actually been much improved of late... I couldn't help myself).
What might have finally forced Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman to dump Rogers was the aforementioned Ivan Nova. Nova's had a remarkably quick recovery from last year's Tommy John surgery. It's been previously established that it takes most pitchers about 18 months to fully return from the procedure. Nova had his surgery on April 29 of last year, which puts him at basically 13 months (is he Wolverine or something?). Nova's rehab clock has started, which means the team has to call him up within 30 days, but he pitched so well in his first rehab start (4 2/3 innings, one run on three hits for High-A Tampa), that the team's talking about giving him just one more start before the callup. Someone was going to have to go, and soon.
It is believed that the Yankees will put Adam Warren back in the bullpen as the corresponding move to Nova's eventual callup. I happen to think that's a big mistake, as Warren has been one of the team's more consistent starters over the last month or so, but I can't deny that he would definitely strengthen the bullpen, which the team might need more right now. Someone from the 'pen was going to have to leave the team with Warren potentially shifting roles. The easy move, as far as roster headaches go, would have been to send down Jacob Lindgren. However, I think that would also be a mistake. Despite a couple bad pitches here and there, the kid was pitching well. He's a big part of the bullpen future, and it made sense to keep him up here to get experience.
Chris Martin could have found himself as the odd man out again, but he just got back and it would be interesting to see what he's got to offer now that he's healthy again. The two candidates to go were Chris Capuano and Rogers. The argument for getting rid of Capuano was that the team already has a lot of lefties in the pen, and keeping Rogers over him would even things out a bit. Also, you could point out that Caps is 0-4 with a 5.28 ERA, and lost a game recently by giving up a run in the top of the 10th inning. My argument for keeping Capuano was that, on June 6, he came into a game the Yankees were winning 8-2 and pitched a 1-2-3 inning. That was the day after Rogers' ninth inning meltdown, which was especially damning. You have to be able to come in with a big lead and save your closer. Cap did that. Rogers couldn't. Maybe that's too simple a reason, but it works for me.
Look, both Capuano and Rogers should eventually find themselves off the roster this season because the Yankees were going to tire of them stinking at some point and either make a trade (something Cashman's been talking about doing already) or call up one of their Triple-A guys for a shot. I think Rogers made sense as the one to go right now. He's been in the league for seven years now and pitched to a 5.60 ERA. This is who he is, and he has no value on this roster.