Thursday, April 14, 2016

If Johnny Barbato Keeps Pitching This Way…

It’s only mid-April and the New York Yankees bullpen has already been on a roller coaster ride this season. The team’s biggest strength took a hit this winter with the trade of Adam Warren only to receive Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds back in a trade. The strength of the bullpen took another hit when Justin Wilson was traded only to see Luis Cessa, at least in spring training, pitch well and lock down a bullpen slot out of spring training. The team thought they had Adam Warren replaced when Bryan Mitchell won a spot in the bullpen out of spring training as a reliever that could start only to take another hit when Mitchell injured his toe and learned he would miss four months of the season at least to fix it after undergoing surgery. The Yankees bullpen was handed another bad card when Nick Rumbelow announced that he needed ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, better known as Tommy John surgery, but you know what? If Johnny Barbato keeps pitching the way he has I don’t think any of it is going to matter.

The Yankees already have a strong bullpen with Andrew Miller closing out games and Dellin Betances setting up games in the 8th inning and that core only got better when, albeit in a small sample size again, Chasen Shreve remembered how to get Major League caliber hitters out with his splitter. The Yankees have weathered the storm through seven games now and in another month they get their eventual closer back in Chapman after the lefty got suspended for 30 games due to an altercation this winter but New York may have also found another great arm in Barbato.

The theme of this post, like most posts similar to this in the early parts of the MLB season, is going to be sample size. Stats regress or improve and over 162 games you usually have a much clearer picture than you do after two weeks of the season but you have to crawl before you can walk so stick with me. Barbato, already deemed the Yankees “secret weapon” by that guy that has me blocked because I broke a story before him and wanted some accountability at the New York Post, has pitched extremely well not only this spring but it has carried over into the regular season as well. Barbato seems to be quickly earning his keep and working his way into the Joe Girardi Circle of Trust, trademark pending, this season giving the Yankees another strong 6th or 7th inning option out of the pen.

The Yankees pen, as patchwork as it has become in the early portions of this regular season, is still a strength and it’s only going to get better as long as everyone keeps pitching the way that they’re supposed to. When Chapman returns and when the Yankees find the confidence to bring up a Jacob Lindgren or a James Pazos again this pen has all the makings of being unhittable and downright unfair. Hate us now, we live for this. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)