In a season that can be labeled as a surprise for the New York Yankees, a season where they find themselves atop the AL East division standings nearly two months into the season, a part of that surprise is rookie reliever Preston Claiborne.
Since his call-up on May 5 to replace an injured Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen, Claiborne has pitched phenomenally for New York.
In six appearances this month, Claiborne boasts an untouched 0.00 ERA in 8.0 innings of work, to go along with five strikeouts and no walks allowed.
Claiborne was drafted in the 17th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft out of Tulane University by the New York Yankees and has spent the past four seasons (including 2013) across New York’s farm system, posting a cumulative 3.00 ERA in 204.1 innings of relief work.
Throughout his time in the minors, Claiborne posted a 199/79 strikeout to walk ratio, giving rise to possible concerns over his command and control of pitches.
Despite his walk rate in the minors, Claiborne has not walked a single batter since his May 5 call-up. Claiborne has certainly improved his control, effectively commanding his solid three-pitch arsenal that includes a low-90s fastball, slider and changeup.
While many observers of the Yankees may be leery of Claiborne’s early success due to Chamberlain’s early, yet short-lived, breakthrough with the club in 2007, Claiborne may be an exception to such skepticism due to the fact that he has been groomed throughout the minors as a reliever, as opposed to Chamberlain who was utilized as a starter and reliever in his first two seasons.
Whichever way you may wish to view it, Claiborne has been impressive thus far for the first-place Yankees and offers further stability to a bullpen that has pitched lock-down baseball this season.