Yankees made a huge bullpen mistake sending down stud rookie 

Alexander Wilson
ron marcinaccio, yankees
Apr 9, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Ron Marinaccio (97) looks a runner back in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Yankees decided to exercise one of Ron Marinaccio’s minor-league options, they probably didn’t realize the impact it would have on their bullpen. It seems as if management is using August to get healthy before the September push toward the playoffs, utilizing Marinaccio sparingly with Triple-A Scranton.

Before being sent down, Marinaccio featured phenomenal numbers at 27 years old. The rookie hosts a 2.03 ERA with 10.80 strikeouts per nine and an 82.7% left on base rate over 26.2 innings this season. He’s also generating a 40% ground ball rate, 0.34 home runs per nine, and a 3.6% HR/FB ratio.

In fact, Marinaccio has arguably the best change-up on the entire roster. He’s utilizing his change-up 36% this season at 84 mph on average. Opposing batters are hitting .057 against his change-up with a .086 slugging percentage, 47.8% wiff rate, and 32% put away rate. His fastball has been equally as impressive, generating a .118 batting average against with a 24.4% whiff rate and 16% put away rate.

The Yankees have made a few interesting decisions in the bullpen:

Interestingly, the Yankees have relied more on Jonathan Loáisiga after sending Marinaccio down. Coming off a shoulder injury, Loáisiga has been incredibly disappointing this season, hosting a 6.57 ERA over 24.2 innings. He’s striking out just 8.03 batters per nine with a 59.8% left on base rate and 50% ground ball rate. His 16.7% HR/FB ratio is nearly triple the number he collected in 2021.

There was hope that Loáisiga could find his form after the shoulder issue. In July, he featured a 6.00 ERA over 6.0 innings pitched, allowing eight hits and four earned runs. He struck out just for batters in that time span but did degenerate 12 ground balls. In August, he’s earned a 4.50 ERA over 2.0 innings, giving up three hits and two runs, including a run in his last two outings against the Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals.

At this point, the Yankees may not be able to justify utilizing him in the playoffs, let alone as an important part of the bullpen down the stretch. He’s seen an increase in sinker usage this year to 62.4%, but opposing batters are hitting .344 against it with just an 19.8% whiff rate.

Pitching coach Matt Blake has tried to improve his sinker movement, but he’s still generating 14% below the average in vertical inches, dropped at just 16.5. He only has one percent better horizontal movement with 15.2 inches of break.

Loáisiga has one minor-league option left, so the Yankees have to be incredibly strategic with how they use it. The more likely scenario is they drop Albert Abreu in favor of Marinaccio, who was completely dismantled on Wednesday against Seattle.

Changes are coming for the Yankees as they get healthier, but they still need to win games in the meantime before they find themselves right back in the mix with Toronto at the top of the AL East.