In 2016 The Yankees realized it was time to rebuild and for the first in a long time starting selling their players at the trade deadline.
Part of that rebuild was trading pitcher Andrew Miller to the Indians, and in return, the Yankees got Clint Frazier, J.P. Feyereisen, and Justus Sheffield. However, Sheffield and Feyereisen are still in the minors, and the expectations are high for Sheffield. Ever since becoming a Yankee, he has impressed the team by meeting those expectations.
That was until the lefty stumbled on a bit of bad luck early July of this year. He left a start early because of an oblique injury which sidelined him until September 3.
It was tough for the competitive Sheffield to sit out and not be able to contribute to his team for that long especially while they were in the playoff race.
Since coming back from the injury, Sheffield has not had a setback which has allowed him to focus on the goals set out for him by the Yankees
“Right now, I’m just trying to get my innings in,” Sheffield said. “Since I got injured I didn’t get as many innings as I needed this year.”
However, Sheffield does not intend to just get his innings in. He wants to make the most of his time in the Arizona Fall League by improving his off-speed pitches, specifically what he called the best pitch in baseball. The Changeup.
“(It’s)Hardest pitch to hit,” Sheffield said. “You talk to every hitter; I guarantee 90% of them say a changeup is the hardest pitch to hit.”
The southpaw said if he can learn to locate his changeup down in the zone and make it look like his fastball is faster, he will keep hitter guessing.
His plan to achieve this success, easy. Just keep throwing it.
“Continue to throw it, trust it,” Sheffield said. “The more you throw it in the game, the better it is going to get.”
For Sheffield, this is the best place to test his changeup as he is going up against some of the most talented players in the minor leagues.
“It’s been fun,” Sheffield said. “Pitching against guys that I’ve played against this year and guys that I’ve heard about all the time that I finally get to match up against its been awesome.”
So far it has been a good fall for Sheffield has he has held batters to a .191 average in four starts while putting up an ERA of 2.37.
All this success earned him a spot in the Fall Stars game which took place on November 4.
This is the second time that Sheffield was named an all-star this season, he was named to the Eastern League all-star game while playing with the Trenton Thunder.
Sheffield said he was put in a lot of work this season, but gives a lot of credit to his coaches and teammates and coaches who helped him on and off the field.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without them (his teammates),” Sheffield said. “Trust me, I’ve given up some rockets this year, and there have been some amazing plays made behind me so just blessed and grateful for the opportunities.”