September can be a fun month in baseball. Teams are fighting for a playoff spot while others will use the month to evaluate talent for next season. Some teams will try to do both. The New York Yankees fall into both categories. The Yankees are only 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot with 25 games remaining. That will likely mean the Yankees won’t find much playing time for guys like J.R. Murphy, Dellin Betances, Brett Marshall and David Adams. However, Cesar Cabral will have a chance to show the Yankees something as the second lefty set-up man in the bullpen and could pitch his way into a bigger role for next season.
Cabral, 24, was selected by the Kansas City Royals from the Boston Red Sox in the 2011 Rule V Draft and sold to the Yankees. He was having a very nice spring training before he suffered a stress fracture to his elbow prior to the 2012 season and didn’t pitch at all last year. This season, he appeared in 30 games in the minors spread across three levels and posted a 5.40 ERA, 1.69 WHIP and struck out 43 in 36.2 innings.
Cabral’s numbers weren’t eye-popping by any stretch as a whole. However, he has struck out left hitters at an almost 35 percent clip which could be very useful for the Yankees down the stretch as they face tough left-handed hitters like David Ortiz and Chris Davis down the stretch.
Cabral will get a chance to essentially be a back-up to Boone Logan in the bullpen while also giving the Yankees the chance to evaluate him and see what he has at the Major League level. Given his service time in the minors Cabral would have been eligible for the Rule V Draft again this off-season so if the Yankees wanted to keep him he would have had to be added to the 40-man roster or risk losing him to another team.
Logan is an impending free agent and has had the best year of his career which could price him out of the Yankees’ range if they decide to stick to the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Lefty David Huff is also in the bullpen but has primarily served as the Phil Hughes mop-up guy and there is a chance he could be moved into the rotation in place of Hughes which would obviously take him out of the second left-handed bullpen arm equation.
There is a chance Cabral could pull a 2008 Phil Coke and pitch his way into future plans for the Yankees. Of all of the September call-ups it is Cabral that could have the biggest impact on the Yankees down the stretch and possibly on the off-season decision making of Yankee brass.