News and Rumors

Opening Day bullpen set, Kozma wins backup infielder job

The Yankees answered just about every question surrounding their Opening Day roster today. In addition to naming Aaron Judge as the starting right fielder and Luis Severino as the fourth starter, the Yankees also decided on who will be in the bullpen.

We knew Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren would be there, but the bullpen will also feature Tommy Layne, Bryan Mitchell, Chasen Shreve, and rookie Jonathan Holder.

Layne was a solid pickup by Brian Cashman last summer, as he pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 29 appearances after being released by the Red Sox in July. He’ll likely be the Yankees’ situational lefty, coming in for one crucial at-bat per game.

Mitchell was in the running for a rotation spot, but like Warren should be just fine in the bullpen. The 25-year-old missed most of last season due to a foot injury but still made five starts down the stretch, posting a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings. He’ll probably be the long-man in the bullpen, but don’t rule him out for potential starts at some point.

Shreve, 26, will look to return to his 2015 form after struggling through much of 2016. He struck out nine batters in 10 spring training innings, so let’s hope he’s turned a corner and will become a reliable Major League reliever.

Holder started last season in High-A Tampa, but ended the year as September call-up. Still just 23, he struck out 101 batters in 65.1 innings between Tampa, Trenton, and Scranton, and could make an interesting case for the A.L. Rookie of the Year given enough opportunities. He’s that good.

In the running for Holder’s spot in the pen was Ben Heller, who impressed this spring but needs some more seasoning according to Girardi. Expect to see Heller pitch in the bigs as the season goes on.

The Yankees also decided on their backup infielder. Pete Kozma is expected to be on the Opening Day roster, while Ronald Torreyes fills in for Didi Gregorius as the everyday shortstop.

Kozma didn’t exactly blow people away in spring training, as he’s hit .222 in 36 at-bats. However, the 28-year-old has a great glove and plenty of Major League experience which gave him the edge over Rob Refsnyder, who will start the year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder, of course, has no set position and has never played shortstop.

The Yankees re-signed Kozma to a minor-league deal after he played 130 games for the RailRiders in 2016. Along with shortstop, Kozma can also play second base, third base, and the outfield, if need be.

Once Gregorius returns, Kozma will likely be sent down and Torreyes will reassume his post as the Yankees’ utility man.

The Yankees are traveling to Atlanta’s new SunTrust Park where they will play their final exhibition game on Friday. Barring an unforeseen injury in that game, the Yankees Opening Day roster is set.

Comments
To Top