While Andrew Benintendi’s two-run home run gave the Yankees a moment of relief, it really didn’t last very long. The Mets come to Yankee Stadium on Monday night and the Bombers bullpen is still going strong.
The news after the games that Scott Efros was unavailable Sunday due to shoulder stiffness was another blow to a bullpen that has already taken too much this season.
“He had some shoulder stiffness after yesterday’s game, so he wasn’t available for us today,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Efros threw 16 pitches in Saturday’s loss to the Blue Jays after not pitching in two days. Boone said he wasn’t sure if Efros would see team doctors for imaging or testing.
In eight games since the Yankees acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline, Efros has allowed four runs, three earned, with a 3.24 ERA.
Efros quickly earned the trust of Boone and the Yankees. Boone turned to him — with Clay Holmes appearing available but struggling — to close out the Yankees’ only win in Boston. He was there for 1.1 innings in the only game the Bombers won against the Rays.
Boone can’t say if Efros will go to testing or imaging, but it certainly raises concerns about its durability. Efros, a rookie, didn’t pitch in the minor or major leagues last season and is approaching the combined innings he pitched in 2021.
The Yankees already had to make a minor move to bring in right-hander Luke Bard on Sunday morning when struggling Albert Abreu went on the injured list with an inflamed elbow. That’s on top of Holmes going on IL with lower back tightness. With his time in Illinois struggling, Holmes hopes to be physically ready to return once he’s eligible and is using this time to work on his pitching to get it back to his first-half All-Star form. They already lost Michael King, arguably their most reliable player, and Chad Green for the season. Zach Britton continues to make progress in his rehab following elbow reconstruction surgery in October, but it’s hard to project him back to be the back of the bullpen arm the Bombers need in the stretch or playoffs.
Aroldis Chapman has struggled so much that high-leverage pitching isn’t even considered right now. Jonathan Loaisiga has been inconsistent.
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If Efros is hurt, they will have to take a bigger step and consider scrapping the plan to move him to the starter and put Clark Schmidt back in the bullpen. He has already made 16 appearances, one start and has a 2.40 ERA while allowing eight earned runs in 30.1 innings with a major league-high 29 strikeouts this season. With 40 games left in the regular season and Luis Severino expected to return in the middle of next month, it’s looking less and less likely they’ll need Schmidt in the rotation.
And the Yankees may have seen another option late in the game on Sunday.
Lou Trivino came in with the bases loaded in a 2-1 game and wreaked havoc on Sunday, then ended up giving them 2.1 solid innings.
“Well, I mean, I know what it’s like to go out there and leave the bases loaded, and I’m not only trying to pick up the team, but I’m trying to pick up my fellow bullpen guys,” Trivino said. “But it’s one of those things where you just try and try to be as aggressive as possible in the zone and hopefully get some weak contact or swinging misses.”
The right-hander, who the Bombers acquired in Frankie Montas in a deadline deal from the A’s, had a rough start with Oakland this season, but has been getting more use since coming to the Yankees and finding more success slider and cutter.
Even if Efros’ shoulder turns out to be OK, Trivino could play a bigger role in the bullpen and be a big factor. If Holmes returns as well, it could help spread the load on the relievers.
“I am ready for anything. Honestly, I can do anything to help this team win,” Trivino said. “I’ll do whatever they want.”