Yankees lose key bullpen piece to injury

yankees, ian hamilton
May 16, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees pitcher Ian Hamilton (71) pitches to the Toronto Blue Jays during the fourth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The coming days for the New York Yankees promise to be strenuous and uncertain. Despite winning the first two games of a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees have faced significant tribulations, including allegations of cheating and the loss of Domingo German due to the discovery of sticky substances on his hand during Tuesday’s game.

The Yankees didn’t foresee German’s ejection after the 3rd inning, as he had been delivering an impressive performance for the fourth consecutive game. Regrettably, German will now face an automatic 10-game suspension, and the Yankees aren’t allowed to fill that vacancy on the 26-man roster.

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The Yankees suffered two major blows on Tuesday night:

Following German’s expulsion from the game, manager Aaron Boone called upon relief pitcher Ian Hamilton, who had to withdraw due to groin tightness in the 4th inning. Hamilton has been one of the Yankees’ top bullpen contributors this year, so it is hoped his injury isn’t serious.

At the age of 27, Hamilton currently boasts a 1.23 ERA, 2.31 xFIP, 12.27 strikeouts per nine, and a 57.1% ground ball rate across 22 innings. This is undeniably Hamilton’s finest professional season, having moved among several teams in the past three years.

Hamilton employs a distinctive pitch sequence, incorporating a slider (also known as a ‘Slambio’), 4-seam fastball, and sinker. His slider is yielding a .173 batting average against, with a 40.9% whiff rate and 29.1% put-away rate. His 4-seam fastball, delivered 26.6% of the time and averaging 96 mph, results in a .091 batting average against, with a 41.2% whiff rate.

Overall, the Yankees have relied on Hamilton to shoulder the burden in high-pressure situations. His capacity to generate ground balls and navigate tough conditions renders him indispensable.

The Yankees will have to place significant reliance on Michael King, Ron Marinaccio, and Wandy Peralta moving forward. If Hamilton needs to be placed on the 10-day IL, they may decide to promote a young pitcher from the minor-league system.

One player to monitor closely is Matt Krook, who has excited the Yankees with his strong performance during spring training. Krook has recorded a 1.42 ERA across 12.2 innings in triple-A this year. He is striking out 18.47 batters per nine and boasts a 53.3% ground ball rate.

If there’s any pitcher primed to step up and provide immediate assistance to the Yankees, Krook is undoubtedly their top choice from Triple-A.