Tuesday night’s trade for Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton immediately made the New York Yankees better.
The ramifications, however, took a chunk out of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, with both reliever Cody Carroll and starting pitcher Josh Rogers flipping to the AL East rival in the deal.
While the RailRiders didn’t feel the side effects from the deal on Wednesday — thanks to another suspension to Tuesday’s already suspended game, with the Charlotte Knights leading 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth — Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will have to fill its closer role and look to replace Rogers’ talent in the rotation.
The twice-suspended game will resume 12:05 p.m. on Thursday, while Wednesday’s nightcap was cancelled. Thursday’s regularly scheduled game will now follow the suspended game as a seven-inning tilt. The cancellation Wednesday night leaves the RailRiders with a possible 138 games this season instead of the scheduled 140.
But with the rainouts Wednesday, Mitchell gets a little more time to figure things out with his pitching staff.
“It’s always hard because, for one, you know you’re going to play against them and you’re going to face them,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “Obviously you want to do well against whoever you’re facing against, but these guys are like family here, and the next thing you know they’re gone. But it’s a great opportunity for them.”
At closer, Mitchell pointed to Cale Coshow, Joe Harvey and possibly Tommy Kahnle as potential replacements for Carroll. Mitchell admitted, however, it might be tough for Kahnle to settle into the position considering he can only pitch one inning an outing.
It’s slightly easier for Mitchell and pitching coach Tommy Phelps to replace Rogers. The RailRiders had six starting pitchers before the trade, so the rotation now lines up as Erik Swanson, Domingo German, Justus Sheffield, Nestor Cortes and then Chance Adams, moving forward.
On the big league side, the addition of Britton bolsters an already talented bullpen.
The two-time all-star gives the Yankees four relievers with closer experience, joining Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson. The New York bullpen already leads baseball in ERA (2.76), strikeouts (453) and opponent’s batting average (.199).
“I think we’re trying to do everything we can just to arm Aaron Boone, Larry Rothschild and Mike Harkey with a lot of high-end, quality choices,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on a conference call on Wednesday. “Because … if we’re fortunate enough to get to the postseason, the teams and the lineups that we’ll be up against are very impressive and obviously very difficult.
”I think it just makes all the options better. It allows us to maybe back off a little as we move forward. When necessary (it makes it) a little easier if somebody usage-wise needs a blow, I think we’ll be in a better position now again to turn to somebody else as we lengthen that bullpen. And if somebody ever — God forbid — got hurt, we have another quality option and choice that can reinforce us. I think it hopefully covers a lot different ways.”
• Stephen Tarpley will pitch for the RailRiders when the game resumes on Thursday. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will start with Tyler Austin at the plate with runners on first and third and no outs in the bottom of the fifth. Erik Swanson will pitch the seven-inning game that follows.
•Caleb Frare is joining the RailRiders on Thursday. Frare has a 4-1 record and 0.62 ERA in 31 relief appearances for Double-A Trenton this season.
• Billy Fleming, who played third base and batted eighth for the RailRiders to start the game on Tuesday, wasn’t in the lineup when the game resumed Wedneday. He was scratched with back stiffness and Mitchell doesn’t think he’ll be available to play on Thursday.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle