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Loss of Thornton leaves a temporary hole in the bullpen

Might not be able to tell, but Yankees bullpen just became a tad bit weaker with the loss of lefty specialist Matt Thornton. Thornton was put on revocable waivers and was subsequently claimed by the Washington Nationals yesterday, who have taken on his contract. Seems strange that the Yankees were concerned about such a small salary dump, Thornton was due just around $4.5 million through next year. Short term, the move doesn’t make much sense, but looking ahead towards next year you can see how it might help.

The bullpen has been lights out this year, but might be starting to tire. The results aren’t there just yet, but you can see glimpses of how overworked the pen has been. Taking away a pretty key piece in Thornton, who was pitching pretty well this season and as of late, will hurt. Thornton had a 2.55 ERA (2.73 FIP) in 46 appearances over 24.2 innings. His 0-3 record really isn’t important, but has some okay numbers against lefties. 1.76 ERA against lefties faced, his BAA was .250, giving up 14 hits, but none of which were extra base hits as Chad Jennings pointed out. But for the most part he has done a good job for the Yankees, so now what?

After Thornton was traded, the team signed veteran lefty Rich Hill to a minor league deal and activated him to the 25-man roster. Along with Hill, manager Joe Girardi also has the left-handed David Huff to use. While most of us don’t see Huff as an important piece of the bullpen, he’s quietly become one of Girardi’s most used options lately, and has done a good job for the team. Now without a true LOOGY, the Yankees have a hole to fill, bringing us to the positives of the move. Along with saving some money, it also opens up a roster spot for next year. The Yankees’ recent top draft pick Jacob Lindgren has been strongly working his way through the farm since being signed. There’s an outside shot Cashman decides to call him up possibly in September, but is more likely he will get his shot in the spring. Lindgren who was bumped up to Double-A Trenton yesterday, might not be a bad idea, but rushing him up after just a short season of play under his belt isn’t always ideal. There are options in Triple-A Scranton also, but nothing that’s a sure thing either.

GM Brian Cashman spoke to MLB.com yesterday and said they will continue to look for improvements wherever needed. “I’m open to anything that makes us better. I’m not shut down for business, whether it’s buying [or] whether it’s reshuffling the deck, as we’re doing today,” said Cashman. For now the bullpen will have a new hole to worry about, already carrying 13 arms as a precaution already shows that Cashman and Girardi are worried about an overworked pen,  and certainly doesn’t help the team’s situation right now. The likes of Matt Daley, Rich Hill, David Huff and Chase Whitley probably isn’t the permanent fix, the frontend will certainly have a little more weight placed upon them till a solution is found. The August waiver period just starting to heat up, expect Cashman to make some moves.