Yankees steal bullpen arm from the Tampa Bay Rays via waivers

Alexander Wilson
luke bard, yankees, rays
Jun 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Luke Bard (46) pitches the ball against the New York Yankees during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were looking for a bit of bullpen support, especially with Miguel Castro still on the 60-day injured list. It is also possible they utilize Clarke Schmidt in the coming days as a potential spot starter; added depth to help smooth things over couldn’t hurt.

In addition, stealing a relief pitcher from the Tampa Bay Rays is always a good move, which is why the Yankees scooped up Luke Bard off waivers on Friday.

Per the Yankees:

Earlier today, the Yankees claimed RHP Luke Bard off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 31-year-old bullpen arm has pitched 14 innings this season over eight appearances. He hosts a 1.93 ERA with an 81.3% left on base rate and 36.8% ground ball rate. Before 2022, Bard last appeared with the Los Angeles Angels in 2020, but made only six appearances over 5.1 innings. He pitched 49 innings in 2019, posting a 4.78 ERA over a larger sample size.

What is Luke Bard bringing to the Yankees?

So far this season, Bard has utilized a 4-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and cutter as his primary pitches. His 4-seam is generating a .188 batting average against with a 19.4% whiff rate at 94 mph. The right-handed pitcher also features a solid slider, throwing it 26.2% of the time with a .133 average against.

His most productive pitch this season has been his curveball, throwing it 18.2% at 78 mph. Over 10 at-bats, he hasn’t given up a hit, generating four strikeouts, good for a 50% whiff rate.

Bard has an active fastball, producing 13.6 inches of vertical drop, 11% better than the average pitcher. However, his 11.3 inches of horizontal break is 43% better than the average pitcher. That type of movement is valuable in the bullpen, especially when facing right-handed batters.

Bard was assigned to Triple-A Scranton, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they call him up for a test appearance in the coming days to mitigate fatigue. However, the Yankees did just trade for Scott Effross and Lou Trivino, who are both expected to make a big impact moving forward as the team pushes toward the postseason.