The New York Yankees are three games away from dethroning the first-place Boston Red Sox. With the MLB trade deadline looming and a bullpen full of right-handed pitchers, the Yanks need to pursue lefty relievers to overthrow the boys from Beantown.
Damaso Marte is out. Pedro Feliciano is out. Rafael Soriano is out. And it’s no secret that since Andy Pettitte retired, the team’s been hurting for a few more southpaws—a predicament the Bronx Bombers are more than familiar with.
Nine of 12 men in New York's active 'pen are right-handed pitchers, and Joe Girardi can’t rely solely on the left arms of Steve Garrison and Boone Logan for relief.
Girardi told The Associated Press, "If we make moves, we feel that it's to better the club and I can't tell you that we're going to make any moves...Past history has shown the Yankees have done everything they can to tweak the club to make it better."
Yeah, and past history has also shown that the Yankees are right-hand dominant.
According to the New York Post, GM Brian Cushman said he's "going to be hard-pressed to find anything better than getting Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes off the disabled list." But if he knows what’s best for the team, he’ll consider picking up these lefty relievers.
Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reported that the Yankees may have shown interest in John Grabow.
And rightfully so.
The Yankees were interested in Grabes in July 2009 when he played for the Pirates, but the lefty reliever told the Yanks, “I’m untouchable, dude. No way they’re trading me.” By the end of the month, Grabow was traded to the Cubs.
The 32-year-old reliever has posted a 2-0 record with 27 strikeouts and five holds in 43.1 innings for the Cubs this season.
His 5.19 ERA isn’t the most appealing, but a glance at his pitching resume shows he always performs extremely well after joining a new team. As a rookie, he led the majors in strikeouts per inning (16.20) and allowed only four of 39 inherited runners to score.
Grabow threw in 16 consecutive scoreless appearances and recorded a 3.24 ERA during his first season with the Cubbies. Since 2003, he’s held left-handed hitters to a .262 batting average.
Right now, Grabes is exactly what the Yankees need to silence the bats of Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz. The Red Sox's five left-handed batters and three switch-hitters will have trouble connecting with Grabow’s fastball, which runs in on lefty hitters. He’ll follow up the hummer with a slider or changeup that buckles the knees of batters on both sides of the plate.
Choate has been incredibly effective against lefties this season and sports an impressive 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He’s dealt 24 of his 27 strikeouts to left-handed hitters, holding them to a .117 batting average.
He’s faced 87 batters, allowing only a .135 batting average against him.
According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Marlins are going to ask for a lot in exchange for Choate—his 2012 contract promises him $1.5 million.
The Yankees traded Choate, Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera in 2003 for right-handed pitcher Javier Vasquez. Choate had spent most of his 2003 season with Triple-A Columbus and only appeared in five games for the Yanks, posting a 7.36 ERA.
But Choate isn't his 28-year-old self anymore. The now-35-year-old already has 10 holds in 21.1 innings and would be a key arm through the middle innings as the Yankees chase the Red Sox.
With a 3-5 record and 5.59 ERA, Sean Burnett has seen better days.
This shouldn’t discourage the Yankees, though, and as of now, it hasn’t. Sportscaster Craig Heist of WTOP 103.5 FM tweeted, “I am hearing the #Yankees have a stong (sic) interest in the #Nats Sean Burnett.”
Burnett hasn’t been his usual self this season, but saw a glimmer of hope last week in the Nationals' 7-2 win over the Dodgers. In the sixth, Burnett preserved Washington's one-run lead after coming in with one out and the tying run on second base.
Burnett told Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post:
"I gotta have a few more good ones before I think I’m over the hump,” Burnett said. “But it’s nice to get out of a situation like that tonight, a big situation. Hopefully I can get some confidence from that and get going."
Kilgore reported that Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty chatted with Burnett, assuring him that he has the same stuff as last year, but needs to work on locating his pitches.
In the past, lefty hitters were Burnett’s Achilles’ heel. In 2009, though, he discovered the handiness of his slider—he could make it look like a fastball that suddenly fell off the table to righties and paint the inside corner on lefties.
Burnett is the ultimate go-to guy in pressure situations and would be perfect for the Yankees to throw during a tight game…bring in Rivera to close the door and boom, that’s another W.
Oh, and A.J., if the Yanks pursue this southpaw, you won’t be the only Burnett in the Bronx. Sorry 'bout that.