Yankees Starter Bryan Mitchell Set to Make 2016 MLB Debut

25-year-old New York Yankees pitcher Bryan Mitchell will take the mound for the first time this season at 7:05 pm ET against the Toronto Blue Jays after missing most of 2016 with a fractured toe.

While Yankees manager Joe Girardi had originally planned to have Wednesday’s matchup against the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays be a bullpen game, he ultimately decided to give the ball to 25-year-old righty Bryan Mitchell for the crucial contest.

Because of September call ups, New York certainly has the depth to absorb some innings Wednesday. They’re currently working with a 17 man staff after calling up Mitchell and James Pazos Tuesday. Still, the way some of their relievers have looked lately, that prospect may not have been appealing with every game a near must-win.

Mitchell hasn’t thrown a big league pitch in 2016 despite making the club out of spring training. He fractured his toe covering first base in a March Grapefruit League game and didn’t pitch another professional inning until August. 

After four rehab appearances across three minor league levels, the Yankees activated Mitchell off the disabled list and sent him to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre at the end of August. He’s made two starts for the Railriders, allowing just one run in nine innings combined, while striking out 14 and walking two.

While you can’t always rely on the box score when evaluating minor league success, those numbers seem to indicate Mitchell isn’t suffering from much rust. It’s easy to see why the team chose him to fill Chad Green‘s vacated rotation spot.

Although it was announced Wednesday that Green will not require Tommy John surgery, he will not pitch again this season. Combined with the loss of Nathan Eovaldi, New York is desperate for starting pitching at the moment. 

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Girardi sees a lot of potential in the young righty going forward, telling Chad Jennings of the Journal News:

He has a four-pitch mix. He has velocity, he has a cutter, a curveball and a changeup. I think he has a swing-and-miss curveball and also one that he can throw for strikes. If his stuff plays out as well as we think it can, and we’ve seen at times, I think he can be a pretty good starter.

Mitchell has bounced back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in recent years based on team need. He was expected to take over Adam Warren‘s (since filled) swing-man role this year. The team hasn’t announced whether this start is a one-off. Presumably Mitchell will have to earn his way into regular starts.

In an interview with Jennings Wednesday, Mitchell did not seem to be concerned about his role, telling him:

Right now, I’m just trying to get us wins in any way. If they want me to start, I’m going to plead my best case I can. But it’s all about the team right now and getting wins. I’m just trying to keep pitching well.

I’ve always maintained that Bryan Mitchell is best suited as a starter long-term. Hopefully this is his chance to open some eyes in the Yankees front office.

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