Sunday, December 13, 2015

The New Pecking Order in the Yankees Bullpen

The New York Yankees rebuild on the fly mission continued through the Winter Meetings and will likely continue all winter long if Brian Cashman has his way. The Yankees have traded away a ton of innings out of their bullpen already with the Adam Warren and Justin Wilson trades all while trading two of their most trusted relief pitchers in the process. A new pecking order or totem pole is being established in the Yankees bullpen and on paper it’s far from the super bullpen that Cashman set out to build and emulate just a few season’s ago. 

Andrew Miller is still here for now holding down the 9th inning while Dellin Betances seems like a lock for the 8th inning but what else? Presuming the Yankees bring a 12 man pitching staff with them to Yankee Stadium on Opening Day there are five bullpen slots wide open right now in the Bronx. Bryan Mitchell likely fills one of those roles, although not likely the 7th inning role, while Ivan Nova leads the charge for the long relief role but what about the other three? Take your pick I guess, remember the Scranton Shuttle we all saw in 2015? 

Fresh arms like Nick Goody, Nick Rumbelow, James Pazos, Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder and Jacob Lindgren to name a few were called upon more times than most to fill the void in the Yankees bullpen. The best arm, in my opinion, out of the bunch here is Lindgren and he will likely earn a spot if healthy. Remember Lindgren has bone spurs removed from his elbow last season and missed the second half of the year after looking good in a small sample size earlier in the season. Chasen Shreve is also likely to get a spot out of spring training and will likely slide into the 7th inning role for Joe Girardi. There is evidence that his downfall last season was due to fatigue (release point issues, over throwing, etc.) and not mechanics or injury so it’s also very likely that he returns to his first half form in 2016. 

Two more slots for a whole lot of arms. Obviously Brian Cashman could flip prospects for another relief pitcher, Drew Storen maybe, but as of right now you have to think that James Pazos gets a roster spot as well as Branden Pinder. These two were used more often than any others in their short time on the roster and both did exceptionally well when called upon. It’s hard to work your way into the Circle of Trust and one bad outing can get you out of that circle but both men were on the postseason roster in 2015 and both men seem to have earned the respect of the manager, which goes far here in New York. 

So there you have it. The Yankees bullpen, as of today, will consist of Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, James Pazos, Branden Pinder, Chasen Shreve, Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell. That’s far from the super bullpen that Brian Cashman reached for in multiple offseason’s but it could definitely get the job done in my opinion. It will take a lot of mixing and matching and bullpen management but that is one of the few areas where Joe Girardi excels. 

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