Ian Hamilton brings stability to Yankees’ closing role, relief for Aaron Boone

Yankees' closer Ian Hamilton is pitching against the Rays on May 6, 2023 at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In the ninth inning on Saturday against the Rays, Ian Hamilton got his first save, which gave the Yankees their first win of the season when they were behind after the seventh inning.

Is Ian Hamilton the reliable closer that Aaron Boone and the Yankees are searching for?

It’s much too soon to tell, but the righty won his first save in the 3-2 victory against the Rays. While Clay Holmes gets over his bad start to the season (despite a scoreless ninth on Saturday, Holmes has a 4.09 ERA in 13 games) at Tropicana Field, Aaron Boone stated after the game that other pitchers, including Ian Hamilton, might close games.

“We’re trying to put guys in the best position to be successful,” Boone said. “And he’s [Ian Hamilton] been one of the guys that have done a great job . . . We’re just going to put guys in positions that we think they have a good chance to be successful within the lineup.”

Ian Hamilton, who is 27 years old, was not initially on the Yankees roster but was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. They signed him to a minor-league deal in February this year.

Ian Hamilton caught the team’s attention with his impressive performance during the Grapefruit League season, which was supported by a new pitch he developed called the “slambio” – a combination of slider and changeup. Since being called up to the majors on April 3, he has played in 12 games with an ERA of 1.42. Ian Hamilton mentioned that pitching in the ninth inning feels different from any other time in the game.

“[You] try to keep every inning [about] just trying to get three outs,” Ian Hamilton said. “You try to simplify it like that, but having it like that in the ninth, it’s definitely a different feel.”

IKF’s first extra-base hit

Isiah Kiner-Falefa throwing in a game.
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

With two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth inning on Saturday, Isiah Kiner-Falefa delivered a double to left field, his first extra-base hit in 60 at-bats and 64 plate appearances this season. However, Aaron Hicks struck out on a grounded ball. Up until the eighth inning, he had 51 at-bats and 55 plate appearances without an extra-base hit.

Severino is ready to return

Luis Severino

On Wednesday, Boone announced Luis Severino will begin a rehab stint with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Over the course of three innings on Friday morning at Steinbrenner Field, Severino tossed 40 pitches. Boone has said that the right-handed pitcher, who began the season on the disabled list with a right lat strain, would have to pitch “at least a couple” of rehab games to demonstrate his fitness to lead the Yankees rotation.

Its Tuesday for Judge to come back

Aaron Judge is working out at Yankees 2023 spring training camp.

The team’s minor league facility in Tampa, where Aaron Judge has been hitting indoors since being placed on the injured list earlier this week with a right hip strain, hosted other baseball workouts on Saturday. Boone said Tuesday, the first day he can, is still the target date for Judge’s return from the injured list. The third baseman Josh Donaldson (right leg strain) has not been given a timetable for his return, but he worked out at the facility for the second day in a row.

Rodon ready for his shot

Carlos Rodon

Carlos Rodon is going to get a cortisone shot in his back. His back pain got worse after he faced batters on April 5 and stopped him from throwing while he was recovering from a spring training injury to his left wrist. He said on Friday that he is “optimistic” that the shot would let him get back to throwing, hopefully in a few days. There is currently no set date for his return.

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