Yankees’ bullpen arm having a renaissance is ‘upset’ over latest demotion

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees recently made the tough decision to demote bullpen pitcher Ron Marinaccio, even though he has been performing well and showing signs of a career revival.

The 28-year-old made his MLB debut in 2022, impressing with a 2.05 ERA over 44 innings and a strikeout rate of 11.45 per nine innings. His 41.5% ground ball rate indicated he could be a key bullpen arm for years to come. However, his performance in 2023 took a downturn, recording a 3.99 ERA over 47.1 innings, which presented a challenge for the team’s management.

Despite last year’s struggles, Marinaccio had a strong start to this season, pitching 12.2 innings with a 1.4 ERA, a 93.8% left-on-base rate, and a 37.9% ground ball rate. His unexpected demotion left him and the team in a difficult position, as expressed by manager Aaron Boone. “He was upset,” Boone acknowledged via The Athletic. “Understandably.”

Marinaccio’s Path Forward and Burdi’s Return to the Yankees

The Yankees replaced Marinaccio with Nick Burdi, who was reinstated from the 15-day injured list after recovering from a hip injury. While Marinaccio continues to refine his skills in Triple-A, he aims to maintain his current form and secure a more permanent spot on the roster.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, ron marinaccio
Credit: James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s a tough conversation to have,” Boone said. “Ron is in a really good place throwing the ball and obviously he’s performed well. I feel like coming off the heels of last year, he’s worked really hard to put himself in a good position after struggling a little bit early in spring training. (He) finished spring training strong and has thrown the ball really well here to start the year.”

With one minor league option left, the Yankees are cautious about how they use it. Marinaccio’s pitch arsenal includes a four-seam fastball, a changeup, and a sweeper. His fastball has held batters to a .111 average, and his changeup has been particularly effective, yielding a .231 average with a 35.7% whiff rate. In just 13 at-bats with his changeup, he has collected five strikeouts, demonstrating his capability.

Although his velocity has decreased slightly from last year, Marinaccio has improved his pitch location, which has enhanced his overall effectiveness. This focus on precision over power is helping him regain his form and efficiency.

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