Yankees Hope Newest Reliever Can Blossom After Mechanical Tweaks

Yankees Hope Newest Reliever Can Blossom After Mechanical Tweaks

OAKLAND — A new face popped up in the Yankees’ clubhouse on Sunday morning, unloading his belongings from a Seattle Mariners duffel bag.

The unknown ballplayer shaking hands with his new teammates was veteran left-hander Anthony Banda, a reliever that’s bounced around and pitched for five different teams over his six-year career. 

“Anthony had an out in his deal with Seattle,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before first pitch on Sunday morning. “It’s somebody that I know our front office has had their eye on here for a little bit. He’s made some mechanical adjustments that hopefully are good ones for him and hopefully it can serve us well too.”

Banda replaced Aroldis Chapman on the active roster, a reinforcement just in case New York needed to eat up some innings. Sure enough, as starter Clarke Schmidt ran into trouble early on Sunday—allowing four runs in 4.1 innings—Banda was the first reliever out of the Yankees’ bullpen. He struggled a bit with command, walking two hitters, but did his job, recording two outs (one coming via the strikeout). 

Boone also pointed out before the game that Banda has dropped his arm angle in an effort to bring more deception to his delivery.

Factoring in his first in-game action with the Yankees, Banda has now pitched to the tune of a 5.74 ERA in 31 games this season. He began the year with 23 outings in a Pirates uniform, suiting up and taking the mound seven times with the Blue Jays. Earlier this month, he was pitching for the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. Banda, 29, has a 5.40 ERA in his career.

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Those numbers don’t jump off the page by any means, but New York certainly has a track record of bringing the best out of relievers that have been around for a while, making minor tweaks to take their game to the next level. Just look at Clay Holmes or Lucas Luetge, relievers that weren’t big names elsewhere, but morphed into key contributors—or an All-Star in Holmes’ case—in pinstripes.

Speaking of Holmes, the right-hander will come off the injured list on Monday when the Yankees arrive in Anaheim for a three-game set against the Angels. That said, there’s a chance Banda is a roster casualty, serving his purpose in Oakland while New York awaited Holmes’ return. 

Would the Yankees really bring in Banda for one game, knowing they would designate him for assignment the next day? Alternatively, the Yankees could demote Greg Weissert back to Triple-A or cut ties with Luke Bard, who also made his Yankee debut on Sunday against the Athletics. Either way, somebody needs to go in order to make room for Holmes. 


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