Now the Yankees have Judge and Justus.
Rookie pitcher Justus Sheffield was both awed and determined in the early moments of his big-league career with the Yankees. “It feels awesome, definitely excited,’’ Sheffield said Tuesday before the Yankees played the Red Sox at the Stadium.
But Sheffield’s September call-up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is not just a look-see for the Yankees or the 22-year-old lefthander.
“I feel like in any situation you get called up you gotta get right to it,’’ Sheffield said. “They brought you up for a reason, so I’m not here to hang out. I’m here to do my job and I’ll be ready to go out there and do it.’’
Sheffield was 6-4 with a 2.56 earned run average over 15 starts and five relief appearances at Triple-A. He started the season at Double-A Trenton. With a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and an above-average slider, Sheffield struck out 123 batters in a combined 116 innings for the two teams.
Acquired with outfielder Clint Frazier from the Indians in the July 2016 trade that sent reliever Andrew Miller to Cleveland, Sheffield was moved to the bullpen in Scranton last month to accelerate his path to the majors.
“It's been fine,” Sheffield said of the shift. “I know that early on it was kind of rocky because getting the routine down was a little hard. But I'm feeling comfortable and ready to do what I can do. They said it'd probably be the easier route for me. You see our rotation, we’re pretty good, so coming up to the bullpen would probably be easier for me. I don't know if I'm going to work on lefties only or I’m going to go multiple innings. I have no clue what my role will be. I know that I’ll be ready whenever they tell me.’’
Aaron Boone said he isn't certain how Sheffield will be used.
“No specific plan,’’ the manager said. “He’s someone that potentially gives us a little bit of length. He’s not built up like he was as a starter for most of the season. But he’s still a guy that we think can give us a couple innings if we needed it. The role could evolve to where we want to see him in a spot against a specific hitter or maybe a specific lefty or something like that. But nothing set in stone how exactly we’ll use him. Obviously, these games are pretty important for us.’’
If Sheffield impresses, there could be a spot for him on the postseason roster. "We’ll see, you never know how the next couple of weeks unfold,’’ Boone said, “I'm mindful of this time that a lot changes day to day, every couple of days, every week. But depending upon need, depending upon performance. Depending on how guys are looking, we’ll see.’’
Sheffield said he hasn’t thought that far ahead, but added, “I obviously know where we are in the standings, but like I said I’m going to focus on what I need to focus on, and that's getting guys out.’’