Layne, Parker Give Yankees Much Needed Middle Relief Help

For the New York Yankees, the seventh, eighth and ninth innings have been a source of strength in 2016.

In the first half, it was the trio known as No Run-BMC – Dellin BetancesAndrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. The fearsome threesome are arguably the top three relief pitchers in baseball and were virtually unhittable once in games.

Capitalizing on a weak trade market, the Yankees shipped Chapman and Miller out of town to restock their farm system. Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard were brought in as the replacements and have done a commendable since making their way to the Bronx.

But with a shoddy rotation outside of Masahiro Tanaka, the organization needed relief help in earlier innings. Unfortunately, the Scranton Shuttle hasn’t been as effective like it has in recent years.

Manager Joe Girardi has used 16 different relievers this year, none of which have stood out in a positive way. Because of this, GM Brian Cashman decided to look elsewhere for help.

And on the scrap heap, he found Tommy Layne and Blake Parker.

A five-year veteran of the league, Layne pitched for the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox before making his way to the Yankees. Sporting a 3.77 earned run average with the Red Sox this year, the 31-year old was deemed ineffective and was released on August 6.

After the Yankees picked him up on August 9, Layne has been one of the best relievers in their bullpen.

Through 12.2 innings pitched (23 appearances), the southpaw has surrendered just three runs, five walks and five hits while striking out 10, good for an ERA of 2.13 and a WHIP of 0.78. While many consider Layne a nightmare matchup against lefties (and rightfully so, as he has a .222 batting average against them), he’s just as effective against righties (.212 BAA).

Like Layne, Parker was signed by the Yankees on August 9. And like his new teammate, he’s been revitalized in pinstripes.

The right-hander, also 31, has spent time with the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners during his four-year big league career. After sporting a 3.68 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Parker signed with the Mariners during the offseason. But after spending a majority of his time in Triple-A, Parker eventually made his way to the Bronx and has yet to look back.

Parker has pitched in 13 games (14.1 IP) since coming to the Yankees and has given up just five runs on 10 hits, good for an ERA of 3.14. Over the same span, the veteran is also sporting a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 14:4 while also having a WHIP of 0.98. Parker, who has a batting average against of .194 this season, is also averaging nearly nine strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine innings.

Great set-up men and closers typically steal the spotlight, and rightfully so. Their impact during high-pressure situations separates the good from the great.

But reliable middle relievers tend to be invaluable. And fortunately for the Yankees, they have two of them — Layne and Parker.

Dan Federico is a Contributor for The Bronx Chronicle. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email here

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