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Call Him Up Cashman! Bringing Manny Banuelos Into the September Mix

Manny Banuelos (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In the late summer of 2007, a 21-year-old right-hander by the name of Joba Chamberlain took the Bronx by storm with his major league debut. His electrifying stuff and fist-pumping demeanor made the eighth inning a must-watch for Yankee fans in September and got the team one quality insect repellent short of a successful playoff run. Four years later, the “Joba Rules” have come and gone (for now). The American League East division race is going to come down to the wire and Yankee fans might just have another youngster in Manny Banuelos to cheer about, if he is among the players called up in September.

Listed at an unimpressive 5 foot 11 inches and 155 pounds, the 20-year-old Banuelos isn’t the most intimidating presence on the mound…until he throws his fastball, that is. Sitting at 93 to 94 mph with the ability to reach 97 on the gun, Banuelos’ consistently smooth delivery allows him to pound the strike zone surprisingly well for his small frame. Add a curveball and an above-average change-up with late drop, and you have a full arsenal for success. Not to mention, he is a lefty.

Manny in the Minors

After cruising through his minor league assignment last year, Banuelos really turned heads in his nationally televised game against the Boston Red Sox in spring training. In 2 2/3 innings of shutout ball, scouts and fans got a glimpse of Banuelos’ uncanny ability to get major league hitters out. Pitching 95 innings for Double A Trenton, Banuelos accumulated a 4-5 record with a 3.59 ERA and an impressive strikeout rate but was troubled with some command issues in his more recent appearances.  Recently promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Banuelos has shown the same ability to strike out hitters accompanied by the same high walk totals.

Another Joba?

In the Bronx, the bullpen situation is very different than it was in 2007. When Chamberlain was called up, his presence was needed in the eighth inning. Chamberlain stepped right into that role and executed. This year, the Yankees have the eighth and seventh inning pretty much locked down with David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. Boone Logan, however, is the lone southpaw option for manager, Joe Girardi. Enter Manny Banuelos.

Tough On Lefties, Tough On Boston

Banuelos has been especially tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .229 batting average and zero home runs and his command issues have been limited to facing right-handed hitters. Come September, Banuelos could very well emerge as a useful member of a bullpen that has already established itself as one of the strengths of this Yankee team, especially considering the amount of lefties that litter the division rival Red Sox’ lineup. If he keeps the nerves that come with pitching in meaningful September games in check, Banuelos’ fastball-changeup combination could prove vital in the late innings of a close game, allowing Girardi to use Banuelos and Logan to counteract the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Carl Crawford.

It’s Time

Calling up the young Banuelos and throwing him into the fire of a division race may be a lot to ask or hope for but his stuff speaks for itself. He still has a lot of growing to do, but what better place to grow than on the Yankee Stadium mound. With the amount of uncertainty concerning he Yankees’ 2012 pitching rotation, getting some Major League experience under Banuelos’ belt is a good idea for everyone involved.

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3 comments for “Call Him Up Cashman! Bringing Manny Banuelos Into the September Mix”

  1. I like Banuelos and while I don’t think it’d hurt him to bring him to the majors this year, there just isn’t much benefit to it either. He still has some growing to do as a starter (as evidenced by his walk rate getting a bit worse in AAA) and working out of the bullpen won’t help that. Nor will it help the development of his curveball, which will need to continue to evolve if he’s to be of help to the 2012 Yankees.

    Posted by Adam B. | August 17, 2011, 12:36 pm
  2. The benefit of bringing up Banuelos is more about getting his feet wet at the major league level. His stuff and command is already at the point where he can be of help to the Yankees coming out of the bullpen to face left-handed hitters. I think all in all there is a lot to gain and little to lose for Banuelos and the Yankees.

    Posted by Gabriel Yanez | August 17, 2011, 2:16 pm
  3. New Post: Call Him Up Cashman! Bringing Manny Banuelos Into the September Mix

    Posted by Sports of New York | August 17, 2011, 2:42 pm

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