Bryan Mitchell's injury has drastically affected the Yankees

When Bryan Mitchell suffered a fracture and Grade 3 turf toe that required surgery, the magnitude of how much that would hurt the Yankees was unclear. Mitchell did not have a spot in the rotation (although he was arguably the Yankees best pitcher in spring training), but he did have a spot on the Opening Day roster, so he was likely in a middle relief/spot-starter and mop-up, Adam Warren-esque role. But with three of the five Yankee starters struggling of late, in addition to a sixth, Luis Severino who ultimately had to be demoted due to his struggles, the significance of Bryan Mitchell's injury is finally becoming clear.
Picture Credit: Kim Klement | USA TODAY SPORTS
Mitchell has already had some bad luck in his career after being struck in the face by a line drive last season off the bat of Eduardo Nunez on Aug. 17 that sent him to the 7-day concussion protocol DL. Luckily, Mitchell would return to the hill just 10 days after the scare and pitch a healthy remainder of the season.
Screenshot via MLB.TV
Before his toe injury, Mitchell was mowing hitters down in spring training. Through six appearances including three starts, Mitchell was 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA across 15.2 innings. Opposing hitters were hitting just .132 off the young Yankee right-hander. He was one of the few bright spots for Yankee prospects during the spring.

Despite his electric performance, the rotation was comprised of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, and CC Sabathia. Despite a pseudo-competition with Sabathia, Ivan Nova and an emerging Mitchell for the fifth spot in the rotation, Nova and Mitchell were going to be the odd men out, regardless of their performance.

By no means was Mitchell being the odd man out from the start disappointing to Yankee fans. Mitchell was not a fan favorite in 2015 as he really struggled, finishing with a 6.37 ERA in 20 appearances (two starts). He was simply not fooling major league hitters as they hit .296 off him.
Photo via Sporting News
Even with his performance, it was only a matter of time before Mitchell's good 'stuff' prevailed. With his upper-90s fastball, knee-buckling, mid 80s swooping curveball, and low 90s cutter to keep hitters off-balanced and give them a different look, Mitchell has the stuff to put hitters away. He seemed to be coming into his own in spring training and was poised for a very solid and potentially breakout season.

In a spot-starter role, Mitchell likely would have received heavy usage at the point in the season, filling in for any one of Pineda, Nova, and Severino. With Nova pitching as poorly as he is (5.18 ERA, .292 BAA), having Mitchell at Joe Girardi's disposal would have made it easier to remove Nova from the rotation. Instead, the Yankees are forced to wait for Severino to figure out his issues in Scranton as a Bryan Mitchell return is nowhere in sight at this point in time.

Not having Mitchell’s arm in the bullpen to potentially plug into start has reaped consequences for the Yankees. The Yankees starters combined have a 22-28 record with a 4.57 ERA. Although their numbers have increased across the board, consistency has been an issue, and plugging Mitchell in for struggling starters could have potentially improved those numbers.

The Yankees middle relievers have also had a tough time remaining consistent as the Scranton Shuttle has been used quite a few times this season. Even if Mitchell was not to be used very often as a starter, he would have likely provided a strong go-to arm in the sixth inning before getting to Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

Mitchell will still be out until at least mid-August and his return could not come soon enough for the Yankees. However, there is still no concrete time table set for his return to the mound. Unfortunately, by the time he returns, the Yankees may be out of contention anyways in what might end up being a lost season for Bryan Mitchell, as well as the New York Yankees.

Article by: Chad Raines
Follow me on Twitter @Chad_Rain
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