Baseball – Yankees Turn Back to Ron Marinaccio to Aide Ailing Bullpen
At the end of spring training this past April, the New York Yankees gave Ron Marinaccio his first chance to experience playing in the Major Leagues.
Some 12 weeks later, the Yanks went from giving the Toms River native and Toms River High School North graduate an audition to calling upon him to help save a decimated bullpen.
With the season-ending injury to standout reliever Michael King on Friday, the Yankees are scrambling for help and have recalled Marinaccio from Double-A Somerset after the right-hander completed a two-game rehab assignment with the Patriots following a three-week stint on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation.
King suffered a dislocated elbow on Friday, his first appearance since the All-Star break. King, along with fellow back-end reliever and All-Star Clay Holmes, was a revelation for the Yankees during the second half of 2021 and the dominant duo helped offset the struggles of high-paid closer Aroldis Chapman.
With King undergoing season-ending surgery, the Yankees will need to unearth another unexpected star and Marinaccio is one of the in-house options for the Bronx Bombers. Before running into his own injury setback, Marinaccio started the year in the Major Leagues, was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and returned to the Yankees after striking out 17 and walking one in 7 2/3 innings for the RailRiders.
In total, Marinaccio has posted a 2.33 ERA in 19 1/3 innings with just seven hits allowed, 10 walks and 23 strikeouts. Since being recalled from Triple-A in late May, Marinaccio has fired 15 1/3 scoreless innings with just one hit allowed while walking eight and striking out 17.
Digging deeper into Marinaccio's performance, Marinaccio has a shown a particularly devastating changeup, which, according to Statcast, has elite horizontal movement and well-above-average vertical drop. The pitch has also gotten him impressive results, with opponents posting a .037 batting average and .074 slugging percentage against Marinaccio's changeup, as well as a 47 percent WHIFF percentage (percentage of swings that result in a swing-and-miss).
For context, among pitchers who have thrown a pitch at least 100 times this season, Marinaccio's 47-percent WHIFF rate on his changeup is the 47th-best mark of any pitch by any pitcher in Major League Baseball. Cleveland Guardians reliever Anthony Gose's slider has a 66.7 percent WHIFF rate and it is one of 24 pitches in the Major Leagues with a WHIFF percentage of 50 or higher.
One of the pitches generating a WHIFF rate above 50 percent belongs to another graduate of Toms River North: Mark Leiter Jr. The Chicago Cubs right-hander and former standout at New Jersey Institute of Technology is generating swings-and-misses on 50.8 percent of changeups at which his opponents swing.
The Yankees are expected to be among the many teams in the market for bullpen help via trade before the MLB trade deadline on Aug. 2. In the meantime, Marinaccio will get a chance to prove that the club will not have to look too far for at least one reliable mid-to-late-inning reliever and when he has been healthy, Marinaccio has more-or-less already proven it.