Bullpen boost: Yankees’ standout reliever on the cusp of returning

Ian Hamilton of New York Yankees

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NEW YORK — The top-ranked bullpen in baseball is on the verge of becoming even stronger as the Yankees’ relief pitcher Ian Hamilton is set to return. He will participate in a live batting practice session at Double-A Somerset on Thursday.

This game is expected to be his last preparation before starting his rehab assignment. Ian Hamilton had been dealing with a right groin strain.

Since May 16, Ian Hamilton has not been able to pitch due to his injury. The original plan was for the Yankees’ relief pitcher to undergo a four-week rehabilitation period. However, he has fallen slightly behind schedule and has only recently returned to the bullpen mound for practice.

Nevertheless, Ian Hamilton is making progress and is expected to return later this month. He will only require a few appearances in minor-league games to fine-tune his skills before reuniting with the Yankees.

Rodon to join Ian Hamilton

On Thursday, left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon will join Ian Hamilton in Somerset. Rodon, who has been dealing with forearm and back issues, has been practicing against live batters at Yankee Stadium in recent weeks.

Rodon, similar to Ian Hamilton, is ready to start his rehab assignment after his pitching session on Thursday, assuming everything goes according to plan.

During the spring, Ian Hamilton was invited to join the team as a non-roster player, even though the Yankees’ relief pitcher has had challenges with injuries. By showcasing his distinctive pitch known as the “slambio,” which combines elements of a changeup and a slider, the right-handed pitcher left a strong impression and was quickly promoted soon after the start of the regular season.

Ian Hamilton flourished for the Yankees

Yankees' closer Ian Hamilton is ready to pitch against the Jays in Toronto on May 16, 2023.

At one time, he proved himself a valuable asset to the team, becoming another reliable option for manager Aaron Boone to rely on in critical moments of the game.

In his 16 appearances, Ian Hamilton displayed outstanding pitching skills, maintaining an impressive 1.23 ERA. Throughout these games, he managed to strike out 30 batters in just 22 innings, showcasing his dominance on the mound. A notable highlight was when the Yankees’ relief pitcher secured his first career save in an exhilarating match against the Rays in early May.

Despite Ian Hamilton’s absence, the remaining members of the Yankees’ bullpen have thrived. As of Wednesday, the Yankees relievers boast an impressive 2.72 ERA, which is currently the best in the league. Additionally, their opponents have struggled to hit against them, with a batting average of just .207, which also stands as the best in all of baseball.

Boone expressed his admiration for the performance of the bullpen, stating before Wednesday night’s game against the Mets at Citi Field that they have been great. He mentioned the return of Tommy Kahnle and the anticipated return of Jonathan Loáisiga, as well as the nearing comeback of Ian Hamilton, who made the most of his opportunity. 

Boone highlighted the growth and emergence of other players in their roles, emphasizing how they have supported and relied on each other. The Yankees’ relief pitcher described their collective performance as terrific, with everyone contributing and sharing the workload.

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