Yankees swap out standout bullpen arm for returning injured starter

Yankees pitcher Ron Marinaccio at Yankee Stadium in May 2023.

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Ron Marinaccio, who showcased his prowess with a remarkable 1.42 ERA across nine appearances for the Yankees, finds himself bound for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre just as he hit his stride in the bullpen. According to NJ.com, the decision comes hot on the heels of his sterling performance, conceding only one earned run in his last eight outings.

Yankees bullpen shake-up

Yankees pitcher Ron Marinaccio at Yankee Stadium
J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM

Marinaccio’s optioning follows his flawless ninth-inning display in Thursday’s matchup against the Astros. His departure corresponds with the impending activation of hard-throwing reliever Nick Burdi from the injured list, slated for Friday.

In a strategic move, the Yankees opted to retain right-handed pitcher Michael Tonkin rather than Marinaccio, who emerged as the most expendable arm in the bullpen. Despite Tonkin’s recent acquisition via waivers and his limited role in mop-up duties, the team prioritized roster flexibility, ensuring Tonkin’s retention and deferring Marinaccio’s fate, at least for the time being.

However, Marinaccio’s demotion isn’t a reflection of his performance but rather a testament to the bullpen’s collective strength, boasting the lowest ERA in the league at 2.25. Despite drawing the short straw and remaining tethered to the Scranton Shuttle, Marinaccio had been steadily gaining momentum, evident in his ability to navigate through challenges in Thursday’s outing and lower his season ERA to an impressive 1.42, a significant improvement from his 3.99 ERA last season.

Looking ahead, the likelihood of both Marinaccio and Tonkin retaining their spots in the bullpen appeared slim, especially with the impending returns of Burdi and Tommy Kahnle from the injured list. Tonkin, despite conceding runs due to inherited automatic runners and an error in his recent appearances, technically maintains an unblemished earned run record.

Burdi, set to make his bullpen comeback after battling hip inflammation, had been in stellar form before his injury, maintaining a perfect 0.00 ERA across 6 1/3 innings. While some inherited runners crossed the plate during his absence, Burdi showcased his prowess by tallying eight strikeouts and a career-best WHIP of 1.105.

Meanwhile, Kahnle, on the path to recovery, commenced his rehab assignment with Class-A Tampa, marking the initial step in his return journey after a stint on the injured list.

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