In an interview with Mike Francesa, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed that top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield will be on the Yankees roster this season, and he will pitch. Cashman wouldn’t give a date when the promotion from AAA will happen, nor would he comment on what Sheffield’s role would be once he arrives. As reported by NJ.com, Cashman said he was unsure if Sheffield would start or come out of the bullpen.
Given that C.C. Sabathia is currently on the DL for what is expected to be a short stint, many analysts and fans thought Sheffield would be taking his spot in the rotation now instead of Luis Cessa who pitched poorly against the Rays in his start. Staff ace Luis Severino has had a string of bad outings that have seen his ERA balloon past 7.00 for his last few starts, which is a point of concern. Cashman conceded that he could be dealing with fatigue, a confidence issue, or possibly both.
What this all means for Sheffield is that it is very possible that he will be in pinstripes before the 40-man roster expansion takes place. It has seemed as though Cashman has been averse to using Sheffield as a starter in the bigs, possibly because he is afraid of putting too many innings on his arm. This was the same type of program that Cashman insisted be followed with prospects in the past including Ian Kennedy and, most notably, Phil Hughes.
Prior to Severino and Cessa both struggling to get outs, the smart money was on Sheffield going straight to the bullpen where he could be used in the same way that David Price was in 2008 when Tampa Bay called him up at the end of the season, adding him to the pen ahead of David Roberts, and potentially Zach Britton, before turning it over to Aroldis Chapman. This would mean that any starter who made it six innings with a lead would stand a good shot at getting a win. It’s a formula the Yankees developed in the ’90s that has been so successful that nearly every team tries to emulate it.
If Sheffield starts, in all likelihood it means someone has fallen apart, or he is being used as a spot starter to give Sabathia and Severino an extra day off here and there. It is highly doubtful he will actually take a rotation slot if everyone is healthy and pitching well. Should the Yankees be playing meaningful baseball in October, all bets are off, and if Sheffield has performed as advertised, in a short series, he could be the Yankees third starter.