In an effort to get more consistent performance from the ‘pen, the Yankees made some roster moves over the past few days. Jonathan Albaladejo, Chris Britton and Shelley Duncan were recalled from Scranton. Britton and Albaladejo will see regular work out of the bullpen, with the latter being more likely to pitch in high-pressure situations. Duncan will return to the bench as the team’s most dangerous pinch-hitter, and will also get a few games in as the first baseman each week.
Let’s decipher these relatively low-key moves.
Chris Britton. Brian Bruney was placed on the 15-day DL and this guy has never gotten much of a chance at the Major League level, his very respectable 2006 season with Baltimore nonwithstanding. This also means that the Yanks would rather give Britton a shot than bring Edwar Ramirez back up to the bigs (Edwar had been recalled recently before being sent down shortly thereafter). His stuff translates to your typical middle reliever, as he features an 89-91 mph fastball and a decent slider. Overall, his command is pretty good and helps him overcome his lack of power and a great breaking pitch.
Jonathan Albaladejo. The more I see him throw, the better the chance I feel he has to challenge for that coveted eighth inning role that should be available this summer, when Joba Chamberlain leaves for the greener pastures of the rotation. He’s pitched very well in his short career and is deserving of a greater role than “mop-up janitorial custodian”. Typically he’s in the low-90’s with his sinking fastball (usually using the two-seamed variety) and a good slider. He gets ground balls and is very economical for a reliever.
Shelley Duncan. We remember his power surge last summer – how he came out of nowhere and became an instant threat to left-handed pitchers everywhere. Now, Duncan is a platoon/reserve player, but Jason Giambi’s durability is always a question mark, so his value is high in the case of a severe injury. I think he would have to get the nod over Morgan Ensberg because of his aggressiveness and higher upside (though limited, in my opinion, as he did play in the minors for several years). Most were concerned for Giambi because of lousy play of late, but over the past few games he’s really picked up the pace. Duncan probably won’t get a ton of action right now, but an injury or prolonged slump will change that.
A few other players could see time with the Pinstripes soon, most notably Darrell Rasner, who has been throwing gems down in AAA.