Yankees’ bullpen arm on the verge of being cut is having a renaissance

MLB: New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers, ron marinaccio
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Several weeks ago, the Yankees had every reason to consider releasing struggling bullpen pitcher Ron Marinaccio, a 28-year-old who delivered a phenomenal performance in the 2022 season with a 2.05 ERA across 44 innings.

However, in 2023, his performance began to decline, culminating in a 3.99 ERA over 47.1 innings. Despite these struggles, the Bombers still recognized his potential and decided to give him more opportunities to turn things around.

The Yankees Are Seeing a Renaissance From Marinaccio

After a disappointing season last year, Marinaccio has begun to change the narrative this year, posting a 1.86 ERA over 9.2 innings pitched. Although his strikeout rate has dropped from 11.45 per nine innings in 2023 to just 7.45 this season, he has reduced his walk rate and achieved an 89.3% left-on-base rate.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees
Jul 23, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Ron Marinaccio (97) reacts after getting the final out against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching Arsenal and Control Issues

Marinaccio’s pitching arsenal consists of a four-seam fastball, change-up, and sweeper, serving as his primary weapons. His fastball, which averages 93 mph and generates 47% more horizontal movement than average with an 11.9-inch break, has proven particularly effective, with opposing batters hitting just .071 against it. His change-up continues to be his standout strikeout pitch, resulting in five strikeouts over ten at-bats this season. It boasts a .200 batting average against, a 42.9% whiff rate, and a 35.7% put-away rate, producing 21% more horizontal and 8% more vertical movement than average.

The change-up is particularly effective against right-handed batters, creating significant deviation as it moves inside. Against left-handed batters, it tails outside the strike zone, often starting as if down the middle but finishing out of reach, making it a challenging pitch to hit.

However, Marinaccio’s primary issue has been his control, especially with his change-up and fastball. While his fastball is predominantly aimed at the middle of the strike zone, he frequently allows it to drift outside, and once he loses control, it becomes difficult to regain his precision.

Fortunately, the quality of Marinaccio’s pitches is sufficient to extricate him from challenging situations. Like pitchers Clay Holmes and Luis Gil, the exceptional movement generated by their pitches is highly valued. With only one minor-league option remaining, this season may represent Marinaccio’s last chance to establish his value in the Yankees’ bullpen.

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