Yankees’ lose bullpen arm until the summer after winter back surgery

MLB: New York Yankees at Texas Rangers
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Boone had his first press conference of Spring Training, announcing a couple of Yankees injury news, with the most significant being a back surgery that Scott Effross underwent in December. Recovering from Tommy John Surgery, the right-handed reliever’s status was up in the air already, but this back issue will push his return date to around the summer. It’s a tough blow to the Yankees’ depth chart, but as teams have begun reporting to camp, more injury news will trickle in across the league.

The Yankees will have to look internally for bullpen depth, hoping to find a hidden gem in one of their Minor League free agents or their prospect pool for the time being.

Back Surgery Delays Scott Efross’ Return To the Yankees

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Aug 12, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Scott Effross (59) throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It looked as if the Yankees would be able to plug Scott Effross into the backend of their bullpen, but this back surgery will delay his return for a bit. We won’t see him until the summer, and that creates questions about who could emerge and grab a bullpen spot in Spring Training. They certainly have a myriad of interesting players who are on the roster or have been invited to camp, but the loss of Effross is a tough pill to swallow given how effective he is when healthy. It’s also devastating because he was acquired at the trade deadline in 2022, and yet hasn’t been able to pitch much for the team.

He was brilliant in his 12.2 innings pitched for the ballclub, posting a 2.13 ERA and getting out of some big jams with his unique arm slot and excellent pitch mix. The Yankees were hoping he could emerge as one of their best relievers this season, but that is now on pause. In his career, Effross has a 2.78 ERA and 2.63 FIP, so when he’s been healthy, the numbers suggest he’s a legitimate difference-maker for the bullpen. The Yankees do have some depth that can step up in the meantime, and that battle will heat up in Spring Training.

MLB: New York Yankees at Cleveland Guardians
Oct 16, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Cody Morris (36) throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning during game four of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On top of their MLB additions in Victor Gonzalez and Caleb Ferguson, the Yankees also acquired a bevy of depth arms to put on their 40-man roster. Cody Morris, Cody Poteet, and Yerry De Los Santos are all new additions to their roster that could see some serious time at the Major League level for the Yankees. Brian Cashman also made sure to add some depth to the rotation by retaining Luke Weaver, who the organization views highly, and began to make some adjustments by having him throw his cutter more.

As the Yankees continue to navigate through Spring Training, more guys will get hurt and they’ll need other names to step up in the meantime. Injuries, especially for a pitching staff, are a constant, and the team’s depth will be tested time and time again throughout the season. They’ll turn to prospects, career Minor Leaguers, and journeyman arms to help their bullpen out, but their track record suggests that they’ll find some hidden gems along the way.

Hopefully, they can get Scott Effross back at some point during the summer, but for now he remains sidelined as he just begins his throwing program.

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