Yankees’ Brian Cashman: RailRiders’ Justus Sheffield’s time is coming

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starting pitcher Justus Sheffield takes part in pre-game warm-ups in left field prior to his start against Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Justus Sheffield may have pitched in Moosic Wednesday night, but fans are eager to know when the New York Yankees top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will make his big-league debut.

With injuries to the New York Yankees starting rotation, there have been opportunities for Sheffield to hear his name called, but instead he’s watched the likes of Domingo German, Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga and Chance Adams get picked ahead of him.

However, the talented southpaw’s time is coming, and very soon.

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman joined Mike Francesa on WFAN Wednesday to provide an update on Sheffield among other pressing topics about the organization.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure on that,” Cashman said when asked whether or not Sheffield could be promoted before the rosters expand in September. “Obviously everybody we’ve taken so far we’ve taken because we felt they were in a position to help us sooner than Sheff and that doesn’t mean that Sheff hasn’t been putting himself in a position to help us.

“You’ll see him pitching here in New York — whether it’s as a rotation guy or out of the bullpen — at some point, I would expect, in 2018.”

For Cashman and the Yankees, Sheffield’s promotion is all about timing.

Cashman said on Wednesday that while he’s been in the conversation as Loaisiga, Cessa and Adams were called up, Sheffield was passed over because “we’ve decided to take who we thought were in a better position to compete currently as Sheff finishes off on a some of the things we’ve wanted him to work on.”

If you ask Sheffield what he still needs to improve, there are two areas of his game that he highlights. The walks and his efficiency, which in turn go hand in hand.

The 22-year-old starter has only pitched seven innings once this season and has already handed out 50 free passes this season and is on pace for a career-high. His command was a problem yet again on Wednesday as he lasted just 1.2 innings and walked five batters as he gave up four runs taking the loss.

So as Sheffield has worked on his game, the Yankees have gone in other directions. But once they determine he’s ready, Cashman will pull the trigger.

“We’re certainly excited by, you know, the strides he’s taken and he is an option for us and someone that we’ve evaluated on a few times, without a doubt, compared to some other alternatives,” Cashman said. “The ceiling and the upside is exciting and just because it hasn’t happened yet it doesn’t diminish what we think of him. Timing is everything and when do we unwrap that and deploy that. Is it going to be before September? It just depends on how things shake out and compared to some of the competition, I think, for the service that’s needed at the time that’s needed.”

It isn’t just Sheffield or Cessa, who’s starting for the Yankees on Wednesday, that could help out the big-league club the rest of the way.

Both Adams and reliever Tommy Kahnle could be called upon again at some point. And Cashman added that reliever Stephen Tarpley and starter Erik Swanson could be options as well.

Tarpley has been effective in his time as a RailRider, posting a 1-1 record and 2.52 ERA in 13 Triple-A games. Swanson has a 2-2 record and 4.50 ERA in 11 starts with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“Whether it’s Adams, whether it’s Sheffield, whether it’s Cessa, starting today, those are going to be your biggest starting contributions,” Cashman said. “We have some other guys that will be — whether it’s Thomas Kahnle — there’s a number of different guys pitching down there extremely well that are catching our eye, whether it’s Stephen Tarpley, who we got in the (Ivan) Nova deal, or Erik Swanson. Just a lot of it is going to come down to roster moves, in terms of being able to slide somebody else on the roster. Sheff’s not on it currently and Tarpley’s not on it currently, but these are guys that we’re taking notice of.”

Cashman didn’t want to count out Loaisiga or German, either. Both starting pitchers are currently on the RailRiders’ disabled list, but still could return at some point this season.

Loaisiga 1.2 scoreless innings in a rehab start for the Gulf Coast League West Yankees on Saturday. He gave up one hit and walked a batter but struck out one.

“We can’t forget guys like Loaisiga,” Cashman said. “He did one inning of his first start on his rehab in the Gulf Cost League three or four days ago. So now he’s back on the mound pitching, building up his pitch count. German will hopefully be deployed soon thereafter. So we have guys that are currently on the DL that can hopefully come back and play a role with us as we move forward before the season runs out.”

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starting pitcher Justus Sheffield takes part in pre-game warm-ups in left field prior to his start against Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_WSB-Indiana-8-15-5.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starting pitcher Justus Sheffield takes part in pre-game warm-ups in left field prior to his start against Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

By DJ Eberle

[email protected]

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle