Yankees bring back lefty bullpen arm; elevate key relief pitcher to final rehab stage

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees, scott effross
Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

After being designated for assignment last week, LHP Victor Gonzalez is back with the New York Yankees organization as cleared waivers Wednesday and was then optioned to triple-A Scranton.

Gonzalez was booted from the bullpen after an underwhelming season from him thus far, and the Yankees called up right-handers Yoendrys Gomez and Phil Bickford to fortify a banged-up bullpen. Gonzalez’s ERA stood at 3.86 but struggled to generate strikeouts, only garnering 11 over 23.1 innings pitched with the Yankees this season.

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees
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Entering the season, the Yankees were hoping that the lefty would be useful in high-leverage situations after having a few successful seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as he struggled with command (5.01 BB/9) along with the inability to strike batters out. Yankees manager Aaron Boone cited those as reasons why Gonzalez was the odd man out.

“It was hard getting him into a good role here,” Boone said of Gonzalez (h/t NJ.com). “He definitely had some struggles with the strike throwing and not putting guys away a little bit. Just felt like this was something over the long haul that we were probably going to have to address.”

The Yankees bullpen has been hit hard with injuries this season

The Yankees bullpen has been shorthanded all season. Johnathan Loaisiga had to undergo UCL surgery in early April, which ended his season, and Nick Burdi has dealt with back issues that have plagued him all season with two separate IL stints to go along with it. In addition, Lou Trivino, who missed all of the 2023 season, still hasn’t returned from Tommy John surgery after a setback of elbow inflammation pushed his timeline further.

After a strong showing through the first two months of the season, the bullpen is starting to display signs of fatigue and overuse. Entering play on Wednesday, Yankees relievers are pitching to a 4.54 ERA in the month of June, a stark difference from their 2.91 ERA prior.

scott effross, yankees

Scott Effross is on the comeback trail

Luckily for them, the Yankees are getting some reinforcements back. RHP Scott Effross, who missed all of 2023 from Tommy John surgery and then suffered a setback with a back injury in December, had his rehab assignment transferred to triple-A Scranton, the final stage before potentially returning to Major League games. Effross came over from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline in 2022 and was brilliant, pitching to a 2.13 ERA with three saves and three holds in 13 games with New York.

When Effross returns, it is likely that they will want to ramp him up slowly before being used in high-leverage situations, but considering the state of the bullpen right now, he could find himself in those situations fairly quickly.

The Yankees need all the bullpen help they can get right now, and while they’re expected to add relievers at the trade deadline, they will still gladly take in the reinforcements that are on the way back.

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