Yankees might’ve claimed a bullpen gem via waivers

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees Workouts
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have been making small additions to their spring training roster in hopes of breeding more competition. While many will point to the starting rotation as a big need, the team is still trying to find some productive bullpen arms to support their World Series aspirations.

On Friday, the Yankees claimed one relief pitcher off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies. McKinley Moore, a 6’6″, 225-pound righty, could be pitching coach Matt Blake’s next project.

McKinley has spent the majority of his career in the minor-league system, pitching only 3.1 innings last year for the Phillies. However, pitching at nearly every level in the minors in 2023, he posted phenomenal numbers before his eventual MLB debut.

Impressive Minor League Performance

McKinley hosted a 1.38 ERA, including 15.23 strikeouts per nine, an 82.6% left-on-base rate, and a 61.1% ground ball rate over 13 innings with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate in 2023. However, he struggled in his three appearances in the MLB, giving up at least a run in each appearance.

However, he might’ve just been experiencing jitters early in his career at the top level, but McKinley has solid stuff the Yankees will be excited to expand on.

A Project with Potential

Notably, his fastball averages 97.2 mph, and he also features a sweeper and change-up. His sweeper generates above-average horizontal and vertical movement, which is certainly something that Blake will be excited to build on. His fastball doesn’t get tremendous movement, but his change-up is slightly above average in vertical movement at 90.7 mph, which is a unique pitch.

Yankees’ Bullpen Strategy

The Yankees are always looking for bullpen arms that have upside, and McKinley fits the profile perfectly as one player who likely hasn’t seen his best days yet. Considering what the Bombers have gotten out of arms like Ian Hamilton and Clay Holmes, who is to say that Blake can’t maximize McKinley, especially since he has two minor league options and the Yankees could stash him in Triple-A as a worst-case scenario after spring training.

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