Yankees bullpen arm hanging onto hope he can crack MLB roster

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees

It’s an open secret that the New York Yankees consistently boast one of baseball’s most formidable bullpens. Eschewing the high-cost route of acquiring established stars, the team excels in spotting potential and judiciously using their resources to strengthen their relief pitching.

Pitchers like Clay Holmes and Ian Hamilton have notably stepped up, delivering outstanding performances. However, for one young pitcher who made a favorable mark in 2022, the 2023 season was less about capitalizing on his early successes and more about grappling with unexpected challenges.

Ron Marinaccio’s Rollercoaster Performance With the Yankees

28-year-old Ron Marinaccio turned heads two years ago, recording a 2.05 ERA, 11.45 strikeouts per nine innings, an 81.3% left-on-base rate, and a 41.5% ground ball rate over 44 innings. This impressive run hit a stumbling block this past season, with his statistics revealing a troubling downturn. He ended with a 3.99 ERA, 10.65 strikeouts per nine, a 74.3% left-on-base rate, and a 38.7% ground ball rate, alongside an alarming increase in home runs allowed and a spike in walks per nine innings to 5.13.

A significant red flag was Marinaccio’s diminished velocity, which dipped from 94.6 mph to 93.8 mph on his fastball. This reduction wasn’t exclusive to his fastball; it was a trend observed across all his pitches. Additionally, his once-effective change-up, which held batters to a .141 average in 2022, underperformed, allowing a .227 average this season despite a minor uptick in vertical movement.

Looking Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities

As Marinaccio enters his third season, the stakes are high. With only one minor league option remaining, his future in the MLB hinges on a marked improvement in his performance. The focus is on honing his precision to reduce walks while preserving the effective break on his pitches, particularly his 60-grade change-up that previously devastated left-handed batters.

Marinaccio’s capabilities are not in question—he has proven his mettle under pressure and performed well in high-leverage scenarios. However, as he strives to secure a permanent spot in the bullpen, overcoming the current adversity is the hurdle he needs to clear.

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