It has been made clear that among the types of players the Yankees are searching for are left-handed relief-pitchers. Although Boone Logan has done a fairly solid job of late, they really could use another good lefty in the bullpen. And Steve Garrison is not the solution. There isn’t a clear date in which Pedro Feliciano or Damaso Marte are expected to return, so the Yankees definitely need to make a move for a lefty specialist. Here are some favorable options:
- Craig Breslow, OAK: Breslow has been a model of consistency in 2011, 2010, 2009. He has averaged a 2.98 ERA over those past 3 years. This year so far has been the weakest year of those 3 seasons, as his H/9 has spiked up from 6.4 to 10.8, but he seems to be able to limit the damage quite well, as his ERA is still only 3.34 despite that H/9. He hasn’t had a real platoon split throughout his career, with lefties batting .223 and righties batting .217. Although, this year lefties are getting more hits off of Breslow. However, this could be a simple case of bad luck, as his career stats do not reflect this year’s platoon split. Because he can get righties out as well, Breslow doesn’t just have to be a lefty specialist as Logan is. His fastball tops out a 92-mph. In addition to that, Breslow throws a cutter, a 12-6 curveball, an above-average change-up, and a slider. CONTRACT: Signed through 2011, 1 yr/1.4 MM, Arb. Eligible in 2012, Free Agent in 2014
- Aaron Laffey, SEA: Although Laffey is no big-name reliever, he is quietly having himself a very strong season with the Mariners. This year, lefties are hitting a mere .190 against him, compared to righties hitting .322. Therefore, Laffey is your typical lefty specialist. Laffey primarily throws an 88 mph sinker, and is a ground-ball pitcher, with a 1.10 Ground Ball/Fly Ball ratio. His secondary pitches include an above average slider and change-up. Considering how well Laffey has done this year versus lefties, he would be very helpful indeed to the Yankees. CONTRACT: Signed through 2011, 1 yr/432K, Arb. Eligible in 2012, Free Agent in 2015
- Randy Choate, FLA: Choate is pitching extremely well this year. He is someone the Yankees should have pursued in this past offseason. In 20.1 innings of work this year, Choate has a 1.33 ERA, 26 SO and only 10 BB. This year, lefties have only hit .123 off of him, while righties still only hit .214. So Choate doesn’t just have to be used for lefties, but he’d do a fantastic job against them. Against left-handed batters, he has a terrific 11.50 SO/BB ratio. The Marlins are in last place, and Choate is the pitcher I want to see the Yankees make a trade for. CONTRACT: Signed through 2012, 2 yr/2.5MM, Free Agent in 2013
- Trio of Lefties on the Cubs: The Cubs have 3 lefties in their bullpen: Sean Marshall, John Grabow, and James Russell. Marshall is an elite set-up man, who the Cubs have adamently said is not available to be traded. If that changes, then he would be a very solid option, although I’d be hesistant to trade for Marshall because of the potential price tag in prospects. Grabow and Russell are good against lefties, but still lean more on the side of mediocre lefty specialists. If you’re going to trade for a lefty, trade for someone who you know is going to be very effective.
- Sergio Escalona, HOU: Escalona has only been in the majors for 2 years, but his numbers against lefties have been fantastic. They hit only .170 against him, and get this: he’s only given up 1 lefty extra-base hit in 2 years. As a result, lefties only have a .226 SLG against Escalona. He had a 4’s ERA last year, but its done to 2.43 this year. I doubt many people have heard of Sergio Escalona, but he looks like a viable option to get lefties out, and I can’t imagine the price tag of a trade being very high. CONTRACT: Pre-Arb Eligible, Arb Eligible in 2013, Free Agent in 2016
Well this is what I narrowed all the lefties in the majors down to. If there are any others that stand out that I missed, let us know in the comments section.