Boone Logan will definitely be Joe Girardi’s top left-handed option out of the bullpen this season, and the Yankees manager hasn’t said whether or not he prefers to take a second one north.
Either way, Clay Rapada and Cesar Cabral are making Girardi’s decision about the final spot in the bullpen a very, very tough one.
Outside of both being left-handed, Rapada and Cabral seemingly couldn’t be any more opposite. The former is a 31-year-old non-roster invitee, a “journeyman” who has 78 Major League appearances on his resume; the latter is a 23-year-old Rule 5 draftee whose 24 appearances at Double-A Portland last summer represent his highest trek up the baseball ladder.
But they couldn’t be any more similar either, because both have been dominant so far this spring.
Rapada has pitched 6 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League competition, and so far he has not been scored upon. He has recorded nine strikeouts against just three walks and two hits, and among pitchers still in camp, his 0.79 WHIP is second only to Mariano Rivera, only perhaps the greatest reliever of all-time.
Cabral, meanwhile, has a 2.16 ERA so far through 8 1/3 spring innings, but has also struck out 11 batters in that time – six of which came in two impressive frames against the Rays on Wednesday night.
Both men also hold a distinct “advantage” over the other.
In Rapada’s case, he has that experience. Rapada has pitched parts of five seasons in the Majors, including a stint in 2011 with the Orioles, and although some of his numbers on paper (5.13 ERA, 32 BB in 52 2/3 career innings) may put you off at first glance, he has held lefties to a .153 average over his Major League career.
He’s also had a bit of a chip on his shoulder since being released by the Orioles on Feb. 15 and signed to a minor league deal by the Yankees three days later.
“I came here knowing that there was an opportunity,” Rapada told Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog on Wednesday. “Having that extra chip on your shoulder to fight for a job is always a plus … I feel like I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
As for Cabral, he has the “advantage” of being a Rule 5 Draftee – meaning that if he doesn’t make the Yankees and spend all season on the Major League roster, he must be offered back to his previous organization(in this case, the Red Sox) for $25,000. And while he may not have any Major League experience, is strikeout totals this spring are indicative of the repertoire that has helped him record nearly a K per inning over his six stops in the low minors.
Whether the competition for the final bullpen spot is lefty-specific or not, both men have pitched well enough to make choosing between just them a nightmare, albeit a good one, for Girardi.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES