The New York Yankees are gearing up to get back bullpen arms Miguel Castro and Zack Britton toward the postseason, but one low-key relief pitcher could make an impact down the stretch after impressing during the 2021 season over just 5.0 innings of action.
Many may not recall, but 26-year-old bullpen arm Stephen Ridings touched triple digits with his fastball in a brief stint with the Yankees last season after climbing through their minor-league affiliate teams at an astronomical pace.
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Ridings was going through a few tough injury issues, which Matt Blake failed to diagnose. They weren’t exactly sure what was wrong with the young pitcher, but it seems as if he’s making a solid recovery and may be able to impact the team this year.
“It was kind of undefined,” Matt Blake said. “The diagnosis was moving around on him. They weren’t sure if he needed thoracic outlet (surgery) and then it didn’t seem like surgical intervention was needed, and we kind of just ended up gaining some kind of ground and ultimately we’re here at a point he’s throwing pain-free, the velo is coming and he’s responded well. We’re hoping to keep it going.”Via NJ.com
The first step in getting him back to the majors is placing him with one of the Yankees’ affiliate teams. He will likely start pitching at the Yankees Complex facilities in Florida before being re-assigned.
“First step is get him in play in the minor leagues,” Blake said. “But as an optionable guy who can come up and help us, we really don’t have a lot of those down there. If he’s healthy and in minor-league games, and he can help us down the stretch, I think he would be in play. But we’re not putting the cart ahead of the horse necessarily. But the fact that he’s reporting that he’s feeling good … all really positive steps.”
Could Ridings make an impact with the Yankees this year?
Blake made it clear that Ridings could be in place to help the team down the stretch. He recorded a 1.80 ERA with 12.60 strikeouts per nine and a 50% ground ball rate over his small sample size of action.
He primarily utilizes a sinker, 4-seam fastball, and slider. Over such a small sample size, we don’t have much information to break down these pitches, but his sinker was averaging out at 97.2 mph, generating a .167 batting average against with a 44. 4% whiff rate and 33.3% put-away rate.
Clearly, the team is extremely high on him if they’re willing to give major league action after missing a year of ball.
At the very least, he may take some of the pressure off the Yankees’ bullpen arms, giving them a bit of rest ahead of the playoffs.