In case you haven’t noticed, the New York Yankees have pieced together a pretty damn good bullpen for the 2015 MLB season. Headlined by names such as Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, this set of relief pitchers has been labelled as the second best in the MLB by one of ESPN’s most trusted baseball analysts, Buster Olney.
(Note: Of course, we don’t yet know who will be included in the Opening Day roster. Right now, teams’ rosters are made up of 40 men. Spring Training will prove who will stay and who will go. For the purposes of this article, I picked the relievers most likely to have a spot in the Opening Day roster, as well as those who I figured to be interesting prospects with a chance to make it big.)
The departure of David Robertson definitely hurt the Yankees, both from a talent perspective and emotional angle. Robertson had always been pitted as the heir to Mariano Rivera’s throne, and so many Yankees fans were sad to see him go. At least he gave the fans one more memory before he left: blowing the save in the final regular season home game that allowed Derek Jeter to end his Yankee Stadium career with a walk-off single. And for that, Mr. Robertson, we thank you.
The Yankees responded to Robertson’s departure by signing Andrew Miller. Miller posted a 2.02 ERA last season in 62.1 innings pitched for the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. He put up an impressive WHIP of 0.802. He also struck out an extremely impressive 15.3 batters per nine innings pitched.
With the departure of Robertson, it is also important to note that Dellin Betances is still a Yankee, and he arguably had a better season that Robertson in 2014. He pitched 90.0 innings and posted an ERA of 1.40 and a WHIP of 0.778. He struck out 135 batters, giving him an average of 13.5 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. His productive season earned him a spot in the All-Star game. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
The general consensus surrounding the team is that it will either be Miller or Betances closing out games next season for the Bombers. Regardless of who finishes them, however, the Yankees definitely have a solid 1-2 punch to take care of the eighth and ninth innings of ballgames.
The Yankees also traded for Justin Wilson, a left-handed reliever from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although he posted a 4.20 ERA in 2014, he had a 2.08 ERA in 2013. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi are definitely hoping for Wilson to return to his 2013 form in 2015. Hey, maybe the guy only pitches well in odd-numbered years. If that’s the case, we’re in for a good one.
To round out the bullpen, the Yankees put together a bunch of quality relievers, one being David Carpenter. Carpenter has been in the Majors for four seasons, and much like his new teammate Justin Wilson, enjoyed a much more successful 2013 than 2014. In 2013, with the Atlanta Braves, he posted a 1.78 ERA in 65.2 innings pitched, while striking out 74 batters. In 2014, he posted a 3.54 ERA in 61.0 innings pitched, while striking out 67 batters.
Chasen Shreve is also projected to see some time in the Bronx this upcoming season. After several years in the minor leagues, Shreve got his chance in the Majors in 2014 with the Atlanta Braves. He was able to put up an impressive 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched, while striking out 15. It may be a small sample size, but it shows what he is capable of. In comparison, in his minor league career with five different teams, he pitched 276.2 innings and had an ERA of 3.22. The Yankees will be hoping Shreve has that keen attribute to be able to turn up when it matters most, as he certainly did at the end of the 2014 season upon being called up.
Chase Whitley spent some time in the Bronx last season. At times, he proved to be a valuable asset, but at others, he struggled. However, his minor league career numbers may show that this guy is primed for a pretty solid career. In 311.2 minor leagues innings pitched, Whitley displayed a 2.60 ERA, compared to the 5.23 ERA in 75.2 major league innings pitched. The Yankees just need to figure out how to get Minor League Whitley to show up and take over Major League Whitley’s spot.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Jacob Lindgren, the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, is waiting in the minors, ready to pounce whenever he is allowed the chance. Last season in the minors, Lingren struck out 48 batters in only 25.0 innings pitched, while allowing 13 walks. He is an impressive candidate for this new-look bullpen, and a player that fans should definitely feel optimistic about.
The Yankees’ bullpen is primed for a successful 2015 season. As usual, health will play a big role in determining their final outcome. However, Yankees fans should be excited about what’s in store. This group of relievers includes two extremely solid pitchers (Betances and Miller), two guys who could go either way, but have shown they can be solid in the past (Wilson and Carpenter), and three enticing prospects (Shreve, Whitley, and Lindgren). It is likely that this bullpen will not stay the same throughout the entire 2015 season, but Yankees fans need to feel pretty good about their chances.