Pinstripe Preview: Tommy Layne

Every year at Spring Training, mixed in with the buzz about young and talented prospects and the reappearance of veterans and familiar faces, there are always a few players who fall right in the middle. One of the players to fall into that category this year is left handed pitcher Tommy Layne. Layne is entering the sixth season of his major league career and he hasn’t quite reached journeyman status yet, but he definitely seems like that type of player. He broke in with the San Diego Padres in 2012 as a 27-year-old and made a stop in Boston before signing with the Yankees in August of 2016. For his career, Layne has pitched in 197 games, posting a 3.23 ERA in 136.2 innings while allowing just 111 hits. Layne is a reliever by trade and although the Yankees have seen the recent emergence of several highly touted relief pitching prospects, the role of lefty specialist still seems to be very much up for grabs on this year’s club.
Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

2016 Review
Layne entered the 2016 season as a member of the Boston Red Sox and made 34 appearances for the club before being designated for assignment and ultimately released on August 6th. The Yankees signed Layne just three days later and he finished the season with the team, making 29 appearances down the stretch. Altogether Layne appeared in 63 games in 2016, pitching to a 3.63 ERA in 44.2 innings. The disparity between innings pitched and appearances shows that Layne was mostly used as more of a matchup lefty instead of a true one inning reliever. He has done very well in this role, holding left handed batters to just a .177 batting average for his career.

Although his ERA may be a little higher than we might like, Layne does do some things well. According to Brooks Baseball, Layne has a six pitch repertoire consisting of a four seamer, a two seamer, a slider, a curve, a changeup and a cutter. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his stuff, sitting in the low 90s with the fastball, but he has been able to use location and movement to produce a strong ground ball rate of around 52 percent for his career. Overall, Layne’s 2016 season was right in line with his career performance. He is an unspectacular but very solid contributor who will produce ground balls and get lefties out.

2017 Preview
By the eye test, Layne would seem to be a fairly replaceable arm out of the bullpen especially with the type of pitcher he is and because of the arms the Yankees are amassing throughout their system. The one key factor that Layne has going for him however is the fact that he’s a lefty specialist, which is a role the Yankees need filled on this year’s club.  With Andrew Miller and Richard Bleier gone and with the performance of Chasen Shreve being very forgettable over most of the last two seasons, this Yankee team would definitely benefit from someone who is cut in Layne’s mold. Layne pitched to a 3.38 ERA after coming over from the Red Sox last year and as long as he continues to produce ground balls and get lefties out, the Yankees will surely take that.

Tommy Layne has been a solid pitcher throughout his career. He has posted impressive numbers against left handed batters and a very good ground ball rate. His main competition for the lefty reliever job in camp seems to be Shreve but I think the club will take a hard look at Layne. If he does break camp with a roster spot secured he may find himself looking over his shoulder rather quickly. Although they are starters, Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns are two young left handed pitchers in Triple-A who have really impressed with their recent work. If that performance continues, then they may very well force the team to bring them to the big leagues in some capacity, but until that happens Tommy Layne is a guy you should look out for this spring. I think he’s someone we’ll be seeing more of to start the season.

Article by: Matt Graziano

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