How is the Yankees’ Jhony Brito decision shaping up their pitching rotation?

The New York Yankees send Jhony Brito to AAA and add Ian Hamilton to 40-man roster.
Sara Molnick
Tuesday April 4, 2023

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After an excellent debut against the Giants on Sunday, the Yankees designated Jhony Brito on the Triple-A assignment and added right-hander Ian Hamilton to their roster. The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty said earlier that Hamilton was on the team’s list of players for Monday’s game. Frankie Montas, a right-handed pitcher, was moved to the 60-day IL so that Hamilton could be added to the 40-man roster.

It was a strategic call by the Yankees, who don’t need a fifth starter for the next week. At the same time, they didn’t want to lose reliever Hamilton, who could have left the team unless he got a place on the roster.

This allowed Hamilton to return the Yankees lineup at Yankee Stadium before the first game of the series against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, and Brito was sent to Triple-A.

Hamilton, who will be 28 in June, has made 15 MLB appearances since the beginning of 2018. Last year, he made one of those appearances with the Twins but spent most of the season in Triple-A. In 47 1/3 innings, he had an ERA of 3.61 while striking out 30.6% of his opponents and walking 9.7% of them.

Hamilton got a deal with the Yankees to play in the minor leagues in the offseason, and he did well in the spring. He pitched nine innings in the Yankees’ spring camp without a run being scored. He struck out six batters and walked three.

Last week, it was said that he had an out clause in his contract, but he agreed to put it off until April 5. It looks like the Yankees didn’t want him to go anywhere else and they have now added him to their team.

Brito started his first MLB game for the Yankees on Sunday. In his first five innings, he gave up just two hits and one walk, and no runs. But the Yankees only need four starters for the next few weeks because they have a day off on April 7. This is why Brito was sent down to the RailRiders, even though he had an excellent first game. Pitchers who have been optioned can’t come back for 15 days, but they can come back sooner if someone else gets hurt or the team needs a 27th player for a doubleheader.

For Montas, this move was just a formality that had to be done. After surgery on his shoulder in February, he had to stop throwing for about 12 weeks before he could start again. That means he might start throwing again in May. But he’ll have to build up to carry a starter’s workload by then.

If Montas comes back at all in 2023 after shoulder surgery, it won’t be until the second half of the season.

Luis Severino is recovering from a lat strain. He along with Carlos Rodon is expected to be back in the rotation in late April or early May. But both are still in the early stages of their rehab. This week, Rodon will throw a couple of simulated innings in which batters will stand.

Severino’s ailment happened late in spring training, and the last time he had a low-grade lat strain in 2022, he lost two months.

Nevertheless, after missing a week of spring training due to a minor hamstring issue, Nestor Cortes made his first start of the season on Monday, with Domingo German taking the mound for the Yankees on Tuesday.

And Brito is likely to be called up again in a couple of weeks to help a thinned-out Yankees rotation with not many ready replacements.

Jhony Brito makes his Yankees debut against the Giants at Yankee Stadium, April 2, 2023.

Still, Brito was good, and his plus-changeup worked well with his fastballs. Yankees fans were most impressed by Brito’s “willingness to attack the zone” in a 6-0 win over the San Francisco Giants. He had six strikeouts. At one point, he had five in a row, all on change-ups.

“He did a great job with his pitches, attacking early and he got some guys to expand late,’’ said Higashioka. “Overall, I was really happy with it.’’

Brito was also very calm, which was shown in the Yankees’ spring training where his last outing, when there was competition for a spot in the rotation, was a perfect game.

“(He’s) kind of showing the baseball world, and certainly us, what kind of a pitcher he’s turning into,’’ said Boone.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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