(Editor's note- I wrote this post before the game today and didn't check to see if Bailey pitched in it.) With less than a week until the end of Spring Training and the beginning of another 162-game marathon, we're getting down to the wire on the few remaining roster competitions. The hottest one in Yankee camp is the battle for the last 2 bullpen spots, and that battle is down to 4 guys: Chase Whitley, Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, and Andrew Bailey.
Whitley appears to have a spot all but locked up, and he should nail down the David Phelps Memorial long man/emergency 6th starter job with a good outing today. Shreve has been up and down results-wise but has gotten a lot of work against right-handed hitters and has pitched 2 straight scoreless appearances, and Martin is... tall, I guess?
The wild card of the group is Bailey. Despite his late start to game action this spring, he's been pretty impressive. His fastball velocity has been there, his command has been pretty good, and he hasn't given up an earned run in 4 appearances. He also hasn't faced top-tier hitting competition and he has yet to pitch in back-to-back games, which Joe said was going to be the requirement for him to get Opening Day roster consideration. With afternoon games scheduled today, Friday, and Saturday, and 2 split-squad games tomorrow, Bailey is running out of opportunities to pass that test.
Not that he doesn't have any shot of doing it. The Yankees are clearly still considering him and would like to see him try to go back-to-back, otherwise why would he still be in camp? I say this without knowing when he last threw or when he's scheduled to throw next, but that split-squad deal on Thursday gives him a good shot to go 2 games in a row if he's feeling up to it. All he needs to do is pitch in one of those games and then he's got today and Friday to play with. His last game was last Saturday, so he should be plenty rested.
Bailey doesn't have any opt-out clauses and can easily go to Triple-A to start the year and work on building that stamina back up. In that respect, it's not super critical that he try to go 2 straight over these last few games. But he would probably be the most interesting option to fill that 7th 'pen spot. The Yanks have their clear top 4 guys and the lower-leverage innings on lockdown with Whitley and Esmil Rogers. A healthy Bailey could be the perfect bridge between those 2 leverage groups and could become a factor in the middle relief hierarchy going forward if he's able to stay healthy.
It's unlikely that Bailey will get that last spot right now based on what we know and what we've seen, and it's probably more important that he's healthy and able to contribute later in the year than right at the start. But it could be a fun story to follow for the final few days of camp if he gets into a game in the next 2 days. Bailey has had a long road back to this point and it would be cool to see him show that he's made it back and go north with the big league club.