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Deep Pickups 5/20: Pitchers

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Chase Whitley - SP, NYY

An unheralded 15th-round pick out of Troy University in 2010, Whitley's entry to the pro ranks wasn't surrounded by a great deal of hype.

Yet, all the right-hander has done since joining the Yankees organization is put up results. Now, with CC Sabathia sidelined for a couple months, he'll get a chance to show he can get it done in the majors.

Whitley was the surprise choice to replace Sabathia in the New York rotation after the hefty lefty went down with a knee injury that is expected to keep him out until at least July. It was initially expected that reliever Alfredo Aceves would get the call, but instead the Yanks settled on Whitley. This required a move to add him to the 40-man, suggesting that the club has some belief in the 24-year-old.

Whitley has given them reason to believe. He worked mostly as a reliever during his first four years in the system, but this season he seamlessly transitioned into the rotation at Class-AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a stellar 1.61 ERA with a 28/6 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings over six starts.

He continued to shine in his major-league debut last week, hurling 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mets. He struck out four and walked two.

Whitley cruised through the first four innings of that game, retiring 12 of 14 hitters, but he ran into some trouble in the fifth when he issued back-to-back one-out walks and was removed after a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position.

This might represent the biggest potential issue for Whitley: stamina. Prior this year, all but eight of his 144 appearances in the minors had come out of the bullpen. In his six starts at Triple-A this season, he'd only pitched past the fifth inning once.

Whitley isn't accustomed to racking up big pitch counts so Joe Girardi will surely be very cautious with his usage. At the same time, Whitley has been throwing so well that he's bound to be given opportunities to push his pitch count. If he's in for the duration of Sabathia's absence, I suspect his limit will gradually be pushed to 90 (a total he has never reached in a game) and beyond.

Jacob deGrom - SP, NYM

Elsewhere in The Big Apple, another minor-leaguer is getting a chance to start in the big leagues due to an injury.

Dillon Gee was off to a great start this year and had rattled off five straight quality starts before falling victim to a lat injury that landed him on the disabled list. This tends to be a pesky ailment requiring several weeks, if not months, to heal, so deGrom might get an extended audition in Gee's place.

Like Whitley, deGrom was a mid-round draft pick out of college in 2010, selected by the Mets in the ninth round out of Stetson University. He's been a starter during his entire ascent through the minors, and while he hasn't been dominant he's been very solid, putting up a 3.62 ERA while averaging 7.4 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in four seasons. He's been very effective at keeping the ball down and has allowed only 19 home runs in 323 innings.

This year, deGrom has earned the call-up in Triple-A by going 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA in seven starts. He made his MLB debut against the Yankees (actually facing off against Whitley) and hurled seven strong innings, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out six.

While he probably doesn't have as much upside as Whitley, deGrom has a lot more history as a starter and is probably the safer bet. It's unclear how long Gee will be out, but for the time being, deGrom is an intriguing flier for NL-only leagues.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.