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Who Can Help The Yankees Bullpen?

The New York Yankees bullpen continues to be ravished by injuries. Pedro Feliciano never got going this season. Damaso Marte also has been unable to contibute at all in 2011. Then Rafael Soriano went down with an injury and is not close to returning. Now, Joba Chamberlain is the latest injury to the ‘pen. Chamberlain has a torn ligament and will not pitch again this season, possibly undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The back end of the bullpen now consists of David Robertson setting up Mariano Rivera. That’s it!

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him now and needs to find some help, quickly. The question is, where does the help come from?

The trade market is still slowly developing and does not appear to be all that terrific. The Yankees have very good top prospect arms in the minors but they are mostly starters and the Yankees prefer to keep those players down this season. So, don’t expect to see Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos in the majors this season, despite their dominanting stuff.

Andrew Brackman would have been thought of as an option after spring training, but his numbers are not very good so far at Triple-A Scranton. The 6’10” starter is just 2-5 in 11 starts this season and holds an ERA of 6.75. Not the type of numbers that say confidence.

One option the Yankees have in the minors could be Kevin Whelan. The reliever has appeared in 25 games, pitched 27 innings and has an ERA of 1.67. Whelan has struck out 30 batters while walking only six. His WHIP is a low 0.85 so far this season. For the Yankees to call up Whelan, they would need to make a 40-man roster move because he is not currently on it.

If the Yankees take to the trade market, there may be a few closers available. New York could of course put these guys in a set-up role for the remainder of the year. Heath Bell of San Diego, Matt Capps of Minnesota, and Francisco Rodriguez of the Mets could be available. Each of them will be a free agent after this season so their current teams could look to get something for them. Jonathan Broxton, the struggling reliever from the Los Angeles Dodgers could be an option as well but he is currently on the DL.

Phil Hughes may be forced to help the Yankees from the bullpen when he returns from the DL.

Do the Yankees take another shot with Kerry Wood? The veteran is currently with the Chicago Cubs and may become available if the team continues to falter. Many believe the Yankees should have resigned Wood after his successful run with the team last season.

The most likely scenario is that the Yankees put Phil Hughes in the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list. While I am one of those that believes Hughes can still be a successful starter, it may be the best place for him and the team at the moment. Hughes is working toward a rehab start and may be ready to return in the near future.

Of course, the Yankees could decide to move current starters Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia to the bullpen if they feel that’s a better option. Current Triple-A starters David Phelps and Carlos Silva could be brought up to help as well.

Regardless of the moves the Yankees and Brian Cashman decide to make, the right choice is not an easy one to figure out. The only thing we now for sure is the Yankees bullpen is a mess right now and needs some serious fixing before this gets ugly.

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