October 8 – Happy Birthday Cody Eppley
I call them the side-winders. Southpaw Clay Rapada and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Cody Eppley were two of the surprising reasons why the Yankee bullpen never missed a beat in 2012, despite losing the world’s all-time greatest closer, when Mo Rivera tore his ACL just one month into the season. Both guys throw the ball with sidearm motions and both of them did so effectively enough to become work horses for Manager Joe Girardi ‘s AL East Division-winning team.
Eppley was originally drafted by the Rangers in the 43rd round of the 2008 MLB amateur draft. He made his big league debut with Texas in 2011 but was then put on waivers at the opening of the 2012 season. The Yankees claimed him at that time and he’s been remarkably consistent in the 59 games he’s been called upon to pitch in since. He posted an ERA of 3.33 and ended the year with a streak of nine scoreless relief appearances. The biggest difference between the Eppley that pitched for the Rangers in 2011 and the one who performed in pinstripes in 2012 was improved control. The Dillsburg, PA native lowered his base-on-balls per nine inning rate from five with Texas to a bit higher than three as a Yankee.
Since they’re both middle inning relievers, Eppley and Rapada often are called upon to warm up together in the tight spaces found in most AL Stadium bullpens. Since they both throw sidearm, Rapada must use the left-side bullpen mound and Eppley the right one to avoid smashing their pitching hands together on a simultaneous sidearm warm up delivery. Eppley shares his October 8th birthday with this former Yankee outfielder and this one-time Yankee hitting coach.