Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley has received an initial diagnosis of a UCL tear after departing his start early last night, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. A Tommy John procedure is very much on the table, per the report, though the team will not rush to a decision.
Whitley, 25, has been a useful swingman for the club since coming up last year. While he posted an unsightly 5.23 ERA over his 75 2/3 frames last year (compiled in a dozen starts and a dozen relief appearances), Whitley put up 7.1 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 and drew much better ratings from ERA estimators.
His promising campaign last year has carried through to 2015, as Whitley stepped into a rotation void and has provided 19 1/3 solid innings. So far, he has registered a 4.19 ERA on the back of 7.5 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and a 49.2% groundball rate.
Whitley, who does not have much velocity, leans heavily on his slider. While he probably does not have a ton of upside, his early career effort suggests that he could settle in as a useful back-of-the-rotation starter and long reliever.
That kind of player obviously has function and value, as evidenced by the fact that the Yanks gave lefty Chris Capuano $5MM to return this winter. Capuano is set to return from injury soon, which draws some of the sting of the possible loss of Whitley. But with Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova still working their way back from injury, it would have been nice to have a full complement of depth on hand.