Wandy Peralta mystery deepens despite Yankees’ clarification

Wandy Peralta at Yankees bullpen in Orioles vs Yankees on April 8, 2023.

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The Yankees’ option for left-handed pitchers is currently limited, with Wandy Peralta being the sole prominent option in that role. However, he remained away from two successive games against the Mets and Red Sox causing disquiet among fans.

Though Aaron Boone assured that Wandy Peralta was healthy and Yankees announcer Michael Kay reported quoting him that there was no issue, his continued absence from crucial games is a cause of concern.

Yankees didn’t bring in Wandy Peralta when needed

In a critical ninth-inning situation on Wednesday night at Citi Field, the Yankees entrusted right-hander Albert Abreu, known for his unpredictable performances, to take the mound. There was no Wandy Peralta. In the 10th inning, the Yankees made a pitching change, bringing in left-hander Nick Ramirez, who has primarily been playing in Triple-A this season, to replace Abreu on the mound. Ramirez’s appearance on the mound was short-lived, as he threw only two pitches, resulting in a walk-off double that led to the Yankees’ 4-3 loss against the Mets.

In their Friday game, the Yankees made the decision to avoid Wandy Peralta and gave Matt Krook his much-anticipated debut in the major leagues. Despite being on the team’s active roster for a total of 12 days, the 28-year-old rookie finally took the field. However, his first MLB outing didn’t go as planned, as he left the game with a daunting 27.00 ERA after surrendering five earned runs in just 1.2 innings.

The outcome saw Justin Turner conclude his outstanding performance by launching a grand slam to center field, extending the Red Sox’s lead to 10-1. The hole grew deeper in the eighth inning when versatile player Isiah Kiner-Falefa, making his second mop-up appearance of the season, conceded an extra run.

There was a unanimous sentiment among Yankees fans and reporters as they witnessed the events unfold in Queens and Fenway. The focal point of Wednesday’s loss revolved around the way Yankees manager Aaron Boone managed his bullpen, leaving many with lingering questions. Wandy Peralta’s absence was certainly on the top.

Had there been Wandy Peralta in the place of Krook at that crucial inning, it would have been a different outcome.

Yankees assurance fails to end concerns

According to Aaron Boone, Michael King, Wandy Peralta, and Clay Holmes were ruled out for Wednesday’s game, although they were all in good health.

However, the unavailability of high-leverage relievers, such as Clay Holmes, Michael King, and Wandy Peralta, raised questions. It remained unclear whether they were injured or unavailable, prompting Manager Boone to rely on Abreu and Ramirez instead.

Following the walk-off loss, Boone clarified that he intentionally refrained from using the three noted relievers on Wednesday night. He emphasized that their absence was not due to any injuries, but rather a strategic decision to give them rest considering their recent workload.

Wandy Peralta, had appeared in three out of the previous four games, while King, known for his long stints as a multi-inning contributor, had pitched in two of the last three contests. The former was deployed in crucial situations, with Holmes, in particular, facing high intensity on Tuesday.

However, it is difficult to believe that Wandy Peralta and King are healthy but the Yankees still don’t want to press them at a time when the Red Sox were running away with runs. The team was certain to take advantage of Thursday’s off day, providing the pitchers with a two-day break. This strategy is in line with the team’s previous approach of granting off days to players like Aaron Judge and other seasoned veterans, strategically scheduling rest periods to optimize performance.

While the Yankees’ bullpen has undeniably been exceptional and currently holds the top spot in the league, it’s crucial to take a moment for a reality check. It’s important to acknowledge the long-term concerns surrounding the bullpen, including workload management and the sustainability of their impressive performance.

If any of Wandy Peralta, King, and Holmes were to suffer an injury or exhaust themselves before the season’s end, the consequences would be severe. King’s elbow injury, which ended his season last year, was a significant setback for the Yankees’ championship aspirations. It raises the question of whether the team should consider acquiring another reliable late-inning pitcher to ensure the freshness and effectiveness of the bullpen in the months ahead.

Wandy Peralta, King, and Holmes remain in top form

Holmes (2.48 ERA, 29 innings), Wandy Peralta (2.63 ERA, 27 1/3 innings), King (2.19 ERA, 37 innings), and Marinaccio (3.41 ERA, 31 2/3 innings) are on track to exceed their number of appearances and innings from the previous season. If everything goes as intended for the Yankees, these pitchers will also have the opportunity to contribute to multiple postseason series.

Part of the reinforcements for the bullpen can and will come from within the team. Tommy Kahnle has been outstanding since returning from the injured list, delivering six scoreless innings so far. Ian Hamilton, who has had a breakout season as a reliever, is nearing a rehab assignment. Additionally, Jonathan Loaisiga is expected to return later in the summer, and if he’s healthy and performing at his peak, he can be a wildcard asset, similar to Holmes, King, and Wandy Peralta.

The Yankees have experienced firsthand the challenges of relying heavily on star players like Judge, as their performance suffers when they are injured or when the rest of the roster underperforms. The trio of Holmes, King, and Wandy Peralta, acting as a formidable force in the bullpen, may potentially put the Yankees at risk of facing similar difficulties if they encounter further setbacks in the future.

However, maintaining this level of excellence for the postseason should be the coaching staff’s primary focus. As the innings pitched tally continues to rise for their key bullpen arms, it’s crucial to keep the long-term sustainability of their effectiveness in mind. And above all the team must put an end to concerns surrounding Wandy Peralta’s absence.

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