Sorry, guys and gals. Short posts are about all I have time for these days. But I wanted to touch on Bryan Mitchell and his quiet dominance thus far in Spring Training. Mitchell followed Ivan Nova in yesterday’s game, the second straight time he’s done that after getting the start in his first 2 ST appearances. He was very effective, throwing 2.2 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts, and this comes after he pitched 3 scoreless innings with 1 hit and 1 K last Tuesday.
Mitchell has thrown 10.2 innings across 4 appearances so far this spring with only 1 earned run against him and 7 strikeouts. He’s been far less hittable than we’ve seen in the past (only 5 in those 10+ IP) and more importantly, his command has been better. Mitchell has only walked 1 batter in his 4 appearances and that was in his first start on March 4th. Since then his command has been spectacular. According to the stats I’ve seen, he’s thrown nothing but strikes in each of his last 2 appearances and only 8 out of 58 pitches for balls in all 4 outings.
Now some of that surely is a direct result of facing less-than-MLB-level hitting competition and guys who are still trying to get in the swing of things as they go through their ST routine (pun totally intended). It’s much easier to rare back and fire strikes when you’re facing hitters who aren’t in full regular season mode and aren’t even average MLB hitters to begin with. Mitchell most likely can’t get away with throwing all strikes when he’s facing a full big league lineup and pitching in a higher-pressure situation in a game that matters, and his ability to effectively handle those situations is still out for judgement.
But there’s a clear method to what the Yankees are trying to do with him in these last 2 outings and it’s not getting him prepared to be stretched out as Triple-A rotation depth. Mitchell is being used as a middle reliever and you can bet Joe and the rest of his coaching staff are paying close attention to how he performs in that setting. There’s an obvious need for another reliable right-handed reliever and Mitchell has stood out head and shoulders above the rest of his Triple-A competition in the role. He’s always had the stuff for the job, now he’s starting to show that he may have figured out the command and the finer points of pitching to be successful in the job. If he’s able to translate these early strong performances into regular season success, the Yankee bullpen could be scary good. Continue reading Quick Hit: Bryan Mitchell, Reliable Righty Middle Reliever