Yankees demote promising bullpen arm for journeyman

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Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2023 season draws to a close, the New York Yankees are gearing up for their final face-off against the Kansas City Royals. With the off-season on the horizon, the Bombers anticipate a period that might usher in sweeping changes, much to the anticipation of their loyal fanbase. While October promises to be a time of introspection and evaluation for the Yankees, there’s still the matter of the last three games to address.

Yankees Roster Shuffles: Middleton Over Gomez?

In an unexpected move on Friday, the Yankees tweaked their roster. Instead of doubling down on their prospect, Yoendrys Gomez, the 23-year-old pitcher who showcased promise in a recent two-inning stint, the team decided to give another shot to journeyman reliever Keynan Middleton. The Yankees had earlier secured Middleton’s services at the trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox.

Middleton’s season has been notable. Across both teams, he’s delivered 49.2 innings with a commendable 3.08 ERA. This figure stands out, especially when compared to the previous season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he recorded a 5.29 ERA over 17 innings. Middleton’s spell with the Yankees this season has been exemplary, boasting an impressive 0.68 ERA in 13.1 innings and striking out at a rate of 11.48 per nine innings. Additionally, his 90.9% left-on-base rate is noteworthy.

Given these statistics, one might question the decision to overlook Gomez. After facing injuries, Gomez made a strong comeback, throwing 65.1 innings for Double-A Somerset this season, registering a 3.58 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and 10.74 strikeouts per 9.

Furthermore, with a 74.4% left-on-base rate, the 23-year-old has the potential to be a valuable asset in the Yankees’ bullpen in the upcoming seasons. There’s buzz around the idea that the Yankees might be eyeing Middleton for a cost-effective contract in 2024. Considering his earnings were a mere $1 million this past season, a budget-friendly deal could be on the table.

However, given the Yankees’ recent trend of promoting budding talent, the decision to send Gomez back to Double-A caught many by surprise.

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