Yankees injury latest: Reliever exits to 15-day IL, rookie fills roster berth

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The Yankees’ bullpen has suffered another setback as Keynan Middleton was placed on the 15-day injured list on Wednesday. This move is retroactive to Sunday and is due to Middleton experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder.

To fill Middleton’s spot in the bullpen, left-handed reliever Matt Krook has been called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Krook has appeared in two games for the Yankees this season, where he allowed seven runs over three innings. However, at the Triple-A level, he has been more successful, maintaining a 0.92 ERA across 29 ⅓ innings, although he has faced some command issues.

Middleton had been a valuable addition to the Yankees‘ relief pitching since his acquisition from the White Sox at the trade deadline. In 11 appearances with the Yankees, the right-handed pitcher had surrendered only one run over 13 ⅓ innings while recording 17 strikeouts, resulting in an impressive 0.68 ERA.

Yankees hurt by bullpen injuries

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Twitter-@SNYtv

Once again this week, a Yankees reliever finds himself sidelined, leading to a rookie pitcher getting the chance to showcase his skills in the major leagues.

Right-handed pitcher Keynan Middleton has been placed on the 15-day injured list due to inflammation in his right shoulder, as confirmed by the team on Wednesday. This injury has a retroactive status to September 3.

Manager Aaron Boone anticipates Middleton’s return to the roster before the season concludes. Early assessments indicate that this injury won’t hinder his pitching for an extended period, although a specific timeline hasn’t been established.

Boone expressed his belief that there was potential for him to make a return, although it was still uncertain. He mentioned that the hope was for him to start throwing in a few days, but they would have to wait and see how things progressed.

Keynan Middleton, aged 29, is set to become a free agent after this season. He’ll be eligible to rejoin the team in slightly less than two weeks, and there are still four weeks left in the regular season.

In a similar vein, Ian Hamilton recently landed on the injured list due to a groin strain, the same ailment that had previously sidelined him for a month earlier this year.

Rookie gets a call

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Twitter-@DugoutStation

Replacing Middleton on the active roster is southpaw Matt Krook. While Krook has enjoyed a standout season as a reliever in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, boasting an impressive 0.98 ERA in 23 appearances, his initial foray with the Yankees earlier this summer didn’t yield the same success. In his first two outings in the majors, he surrendered seven earned runs in just three innings.

Krook now joins a group of rookie pitchers, including Greg Weissert, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vásquez, all with the potential to finish the season strongly. He becomes a part of a bullpen that has been on a hot streak, keeping opponents scoreless for the past 16 innings over the last four games. Furthermore, they haven’t allowed an earned run in their last 24 innings, dating back to August 30.

Manager Boone emphasized the importance of consistent strike throwing during Krook’s current stint in pinstripes.

Boone commented that facing Krook could be a challenging at-bat, particularly for a left-handed hitter. He emphasized that the key factor was Krook’s ability to throw strikes. Boone noted that when Krook was in the zone, his combination of stuff and unconventional delivery made him difficult to make solid contact against. Additionally, he mentioned that inconsistency in strike-throwing had been a recurring issue in Krook’s career.

Middleton trade prospect thriving

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In exchange for acquiring reliever Keynan Middleton from the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees relinquished Juan Carela, a right-handed pitcher from High-A.

Carela, a 21-year-old prospect, was initially ranked at No. 29 by MLB Pipeline when the trade occurred on August 1.

While not featured in Baseball America’s rankings for the Yankees this season, Carela was notably highlighted on their September 6 Hot Sheet, securing the 18th spot due to his standout performance at Winston-Salem. According to Baseball America, he currently holds the 24th position in the White Sox’s list of top prospects.

Carela has showcased his skills since joining the White Sox organization at the trade deadline. In his five starts with High-A Winston-Salem, he boasts an impressive 2.57 ERA. Over the course of this season, spanning both organizations, he has accumulated a total of 131 strikeouts and 41 walks across 111.1 innings.

Carela originally signed with the Yankees in 2018, hailing from the Dominican Republic, with a signing bonus of $335,000.

Yankees senior director of pitching Sam Briend, speaking in 2022, explained that the reworked slider had been generating a significant number of swings and misses, as well as inducing batters to chase it. Briend pointed out that Krook initially had a running fastball but had transformed it into a more potent sinker-like pitch. In his assessment, Krook had been exceptionally effective.

After enduring several challenging years, including a COVID-19 pandemic-induced missed season in 2020, the 21-year-old pitcher has found newfound consistency in the 2023 season. During his time with High-A Hudson Valley, he maintained a 3.67 ERA and registered an impressive 109 strikeouts across 111 1/3 innings in 21 starts. Since transitioning to High-A Winston-Salem, he has notched 22 strikeouts in five starts covering 28 innings while notably reducing his walk rate to 2.9 per nine innings.

On the other hand, Middleton, set to become a free agent in the upcoming offseason, has delivered exceptional performances with the New York Yankees. Over 13 1/3 innings, he conceded only one earned run and struck out 17 batters.

However, Middleton’s tenure with the Yankees may be in jeopardy as he was recently placed on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation. This injury could potentially signal the conclusion of his time with the team.

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