COMMENTARY | Derek Jeter's return to the Bronx is likely the beginning of a second-half makeover for the New York Yankees. Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez are expected to return soon and two pitchers - Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain - may be gone before August arrives. If the Yankees hope to remain in contention for a playoff spot, they can look to the minor leagues for some pitching and catching help.
Michael Pineda - Last month, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that, by Pineda's fourth or fifth rehab start, the team would be ready to decide on the big right-hander's future. Perhaps Cashman is waiting to unload Hughes because, in five minor league rehab starts, Pineda has shown that he's ready to face major league hitters. He's also shown that he hasn't lost his fastball, which has been clocked in the low- to mid-90s. In 22 and 1/3 innings, Pineda has a 2.82 ERA while striking out 33; however, it should be noted that two of his starts were against Single-A hitters. Yankee fans have waited a long time to see Pineda pitch in pinstripes. Pineda missed all of last season after undergoing surgery in April to repair an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder. The Yankees may be waiting to promote Pineda, whom the team optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this month, until the end of the month in order to secure an extra year of team control on his contract.
Dellin Betances - Betances has pitched 33 and 2/3 innings since being moved to the bullpen in May and has been nothing short of impressive. In 18 appearances, the 25-year-old right-hander has a 2.14 ERA to go along with 43 strikeouts and 12 walks. Since signing Betances in 2006 for $1 million - a record for 8th-round draft picks - the Yankees have had their ups and downs with the Brooklyn native. Betances underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 27, 2009 and did not return until June 10, 2010. The following September, he made his major league debut against the Tampa Bay Rays but never got the call in 2012. Once the Yankees trade Joba Chamberlain or find some other way to make room, there's a spot in the bullpen for Betances.
J.R. Murphy - Once the Yankees get around to figuring out that the light-hitting catching combination of Chris Stewart and Austin Romine - they have a total of 8 extra base hits in 233 at-bats between them for the season - isn't going to cut it, they may look to Murphy. Since being promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in June, the 22-year-old Murphy has batted .308 (.889 OPS) with 3 home runs and 6 doubles in 21 games. He may be young, but Murphy, the Yankees' 2009 2nd-round draft pick, has shown that he can hit - something the Yankees aren't exactly excelling at this season. In five minor league seasons, Murphy has posted a .280 BA/.363 OBP/.808 OPS.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Yankees
- Michael Pineda
- Joba Chamberlain
- Dellin Betances