Yankees’ struggling bullpen arm may have flipped the script

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SportsThe Yankees‘ bullpen has managed to remain solid at the start of the 2024 season despite missing key players Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, and Tommy Kahnle due to injuries. This situation has necessitated that replacements step up to fill the void.

Ron Marinaccio’s Adjustment and Improvement

Among those called upon, Ron Marinaccio, a 28-year-old relief pitcher, is showing promising signs of improvement after a challenging 2023 and a rough start to this season. Marinaccio currently holds a 1.80 ERA over five innings, a significant improvement from the 3.99 ERA over 47.1 innings he posted last year.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees

Jul 23, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Ron Marinaccio (97) is greeted by New York Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka (66) after winning against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

After achieving a 2.05 ERA in 2022 across 44 innings, his performance seemed to decline. However, recent outings suggest he is regaining his form just when the Yankees need it most, as they await the return of their injured pitchers. Marinaccio is in a precarious position with the team, having only one minor-league option left, putting him at risk of being designated for assignment or traded unless he can consistently produce positive results at the major league level.

Marinaccio Can Be an Asset For the Yankees

Marinaccio’s four-seam fastball has been exceptionally effective, with opposing batters hitting .000 against it. This pitch is notable for generating 48% more horizontal movement than average, making it difficult for hitters to track.

However, his changeup, historically his go-to pitch, has become somewhat of a liability. Although it remains his primary strikeout pitch, especially against right-handed batters, opponents are currently hitting .500 against it. Despite this, he still maintains a 28.6% whiff rate with the changeup.

ron marcinaccio, yankees

May 11, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Ron Marinaccio (97) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s important to note that Marinaccio hasn’t lost effectiveness in terms of the movement on his changeup; in fact, it has seen an increase in both vertical and horizontal movement.

The issue lies in his command of the pitch, which he is actively working to improve. Recent performances indicate progress, with Marinaccio recording four strikeouts and allowing just one hit over his last three appearances. Though he has faced challenges with walks, his overall trend is positive, and he is beginning to demonstrate why the Yankees previously relied on him in crucial situations during the 2022 season.