On Thursday morning, John Sickels shared a piece about Yankees farmhand Pat Venditte, suggesting that the team should promote the switch-pitcher based on merit. For those of you who only know Venditte as something of a sideshow attraction, I suggest you dig into his numbers – they are excellent, to say the least. To wit, he has thrown 356.1 IP in his professional career. Over those innings, Venditte boasts a 2.45 ERA, 1.064 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, and 4.28 K/BB.
His naysayers will point out that he, garnered his first promotion to Triple-A earlier this season, and he has struggled at times. Venditte’s 4.18 ERA with the RailRiders is underwhelming at best, and three of his fifteen appearances have been disastrous. However, his peripherals remain strong, as he is still striking out better than a batter per inning (9.3 K/9) and limiting walks (2.9 BB/9).
To be fair, there is more than a bit of truth in the critiques of Venditte’s stuff. His fastball is a low-to-mid 80s offering from both sides, and his slurvy breaking ball is average-ish. Much of his success can be attributed to feasting on impatient, undisciplined minor league hitters with his above-average command and control, and having the platoon advantage with a loopy breaking ball can go a long way at times.
This is not just about Pat Venditte, believe it or not. His performance should have justified promotion by now, to be sure, and yet that isn’t the crux of the issue in and of itself. Rather, the dreck that Yankees have been trotting out of the bullpen at times, taken hand-in-hand with Venditte’s resume, is the story.
As of this morning, the Yankees have given 41 IP to Alfredo Aceves, Matt Daley, Bruce Billings, Jim Miller, Chris Leroux, and Wade LeBlanc. They have combined to allow 54 hits, 14 HR, 14 walks, and 38 earned runs – good for an 8.34 ERA, or a 7.00 FIP if you are so inclined. And it is not as if this is a group of reliable middle relievers, either. This is a group of retreads that have been largely unable to remain in the Majors for an extend period of time – an Axis of Awfulness, if you will. These are pitchers whose sole value is as up-and-down arms, used to soak up innings on either side of a blowout – or coughing up a lead in the late innings, as was the case yesterday.
And while the Yankees are designating folks for assignment and using the bullpen and 40-man roster as a veritable carousel for these pitchers, Venditte toils in Triple-A, remaining effective even as the book has been written on him. Those wonderful numbers that he has produced throughout his professional career may not translate well to the Majors – but it is not like the bar has been set terribly high, either.
Give Venditte a shot. Reward his performance, and demonstrate faith in your homegrown players. What’s the worst that could happen?