Promising but often-injured New York Yankees reliever Conor Mullee was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
The New York Yankees cleared another much-needed 40-man roster spot on Thursday by waving goodbye to long-time farmhand Conor Mullee, who finally broke into the major leagues this year after seven seasons in the team’s system. Mullee will join the newly-crowned world champion Chicago Cubs just one day too late to pick up a ring.
Selected by New York in the 24th round of the 2010 June amateur draft, Mullee has had trouble staying on the mound during his professional career, topping just 30 appearances in a season once. He’s undergone TJ surgery twice already at age 28.
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It was fun to see Mullee finally make his MLB debut after overcoming so much adversity during his career. His first big league game came on May 16th against the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, things went less than swimmingly as he walked three and gave up a run in his lone inning of work before being set down.
Mullee made two more appearances for the Yankees in June, throwing two scoreless frames while striking out three and walking one. In between call ups he was completely lights out with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, pitching to a 0.99 ERA while striking out an impressive 32.9% of batters in 36.1 IP.
Sadly, Mullee’s feel-good story was cut short in August when he required yet another elbow surgery, this one to address a nerve issue. He looked good enough this year that it seemed there was an outside chance the Yankees would retain him for next season and let him compete for a bullpen role in the spring, but instead he will fall victim to the roster crunch.
While his arsenal is nothing special (low-90’s fastball, slider, change), Mullee has succeeded because of excellent control and command within the strike zone. New York has a lot of young arms competing for limited jobs at the moment, and it seems likely that the team would rather bet on guys who offer higher upside because of their better raw stuff.
Picking up Mullee is yet another smart move for Chicago. Their only real area of weakness this year was their bullpen, and the 28-year-old righty is a nice lottery ticket. When healthy, he has been consistently excellent, putting up a 2.00 ERA while striking out 25.5% of batters in 162 career MLB innings up to this point.