Most of this season, the Yankees have been able to look into the future and imagine reinforcements. But the reinforcements have run thin at this point. Mark Teixeira’s not coming back, Francisco Cervelli’s not coming back, Kevin Youkilis is probably not coming back and Alex Rodriguez’s return has brought more headache than actual impact.
At this point, the Yankees can anticipate Derek Jeter’s third return from the disabled list, but that’s about the extent of their incoming, proven reinforcements.
Is there any other help out there?
Based on recent playing time, it seems Joe Girardi is ready and willing to give Austin Romine a chance to play a little more regularly. Romine is finally showing signs of being productive, and he’s getting more starts as a result. At this point, it seems likely that Murphy won’t come into the picture until September at the earliest. He needs to be added to the 40-man this winter anyway, so that’s not much of an issue. He’s hitting pretty well in the minors and could be an offensive boost down the stretch, or at the very least he could audition for a role next year.
David Phelps just had a setback, and Videl Nuno is likely done for the year. That leaves not much depth in the rotation, and even though Pineda is dealing with some shoulder tightness, he might still be the first in line for a call-up as a starting pitcher. Granted, David Huff has pitched well and Chris Bootcheck was called up once already, but the guy with the highest potential for short-term and long-term impact is certainly Pineda.
The Yankees actually have a lot of bullpen options. Chase Whitley is pitching well (despite a rough one his last time out), so are more experienced options like Sam Demel, Mike Zagurski and Matt Daley, and the former Rule 5 lefty Cesar Cabral just had a nice outing in his first Triple-A appearance of the year. But for raw intrigue, Dellin Betances is the most fascinating bullpen option. He’ll be out of options next year, and he’s put himself back on the map with a triumphant move out of the rotation and into a relief role. He’s striking out a lot, walking a little less, and pitching like a potential impact reliever who should, at the very least, get a look in September to see whether he might be an option for next season.
Last season really helped put Mustelier on the map, and he became a fan favorite — and media favorite — this spring. Of course, there are two problems: He hasn’t stayed healthy, and he hasn’t hit. Mustelier is playing now, but he hasn’t done much, and the Yankees no longer have the same overwhelming need for a right-handed bat. He’s not on the 40-man, so call up isn’t a given, he’s just a kind of wild card who, in theory, could put together a big week or two and jump back into consideration.
Either Mustelier or Adonis Garcia would probably be a more exciting call-up — two Cuban hitters who have some best-case-scenario upside — but the Yankees outfield is pretty full as it is, and Mesa does seem to fit the backup outfielder profile. He has speed, he can hit for power, and he can play defense (he just can’t make enough consistent contact to suggest he’s a big league regular). Mesa was helpful for a short-stint last month. Maybe not exactly an “impact” player, but a guy who could come up and play some sort of role. The fact he’s on this list kind of shows how thin the offensive options have become.
Forgot about Hafner, didn’t you? While Jeter is seen as a proven option, Hafner fits more with the prospects/suspects at this point. Maybe the time off has helped his shoulder and he can have an April-like month of September. Of course, maybe the time off is nothing more than time off, and he’ll come back just like he was in June and July. And there’s always the possibility that he’ll never come back at all.
Associated Press photos