This past offseason, the New York Yankees signed lefty reliever Andrew Miller to a four-year, $36 million deal, to go along with their other All-Star reliever, Dellin Betances. The Yankees saw a chance to duplicate what the Kansas City Royals did in the 2014 season with their bullpen: Shutting down the opponent late in games.
Well, so far so good, for the Yankees strategy. While it hasn’t yet led to the win/loss ratio they were hoping for (5-6 in the still very young season), there is little doubt that the Yankees bullpen is not the place to be pointing fingers at.
Specifically, though, the bullpen is anchored by the duo that was anticipated to since the offseason; the two-headed monster of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Miller and Betances both had career years in 2014. Miller posted a 2.02 ERA and a 14.9 K/9 while Betances pitched to a 1.40 ERA and a 13.5 K/9.
Going into 2015, the main question between these two was who was going to get the closer role. Thus far this season, Manager Joe Girardi has given the ninth inning to Miller, as he has pitched in the three save opportunities that the Yankees have had.
In those situations, Miller has not disappointed, going five scoreless innings while giving up just one hit and striking out nine of the fifteen batters he has faced. Although it is a small sample size, it seems that Miller is picking up exactly where he left off in 2014, which is all the Yankees can hope for.
The other part of the two-headed monster, Dellin Betances, has not translated his 2014 success into 2015 yet, but there is certainly a reason to believe he will eventually figure it out. So far in 2015, Betances has struggled with his command, walking 6 batters in just 5.1 innings pitched.
His velocity has also been a concern, but it has gone up from the 92 MPH he had in spring training to 95 MPH in his appearance on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. Also, while he is not striking out as many hitters as he did last year, he has still struck out 6 batters this season. This should also go up as the season progresses.
All in all, the bottom line is Betances is yet to give up any runs thus far this season, meaning the combined 10.1 shutdown innings between Miller and Betances have proven to be a force.
The Yankees have had a disappointing start the 2015 season. However, if they can get it together in the offense and starting pitching department, the bullpen and the two-headed monster will be right there to back the team up as it prepares its attempt to get back to postseason glory.