Larry Rothschild has done a very good job this season managing both the starters and bullpen(Image: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE)

The Yankees' 2012 bullpen has been the most consistent in years

One thing that has helped the New York Yankees this season besides the offense has been the bullpen. In previous years, the Yankees could have one or two guys, those guys usually being Mariano Rivera and David Robertson, who were easily relied upon. The rest of the bullpen, not so much. 2012 is a different story though. The additions of Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada already add to a bullpen that in 2011 was starting to find its way back. Cory Wade, Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano, all veterans from last year have done well. Soriano has actually had to step in as the closer, and will more than likely retain that role for the rest of the season. If the Yankees’ bullpen, alongside its offense, continues to dominate like it has so far this season, then the idea of bringing back the World Series trophy to the Big Apple seems all that more plausible. 

How many save opportunities will David Robertson see during the rest of 2012? (Image: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE).

The Yankees pitching staff is ranked 9th overall in the MLB in ERA at 3.61. They are also ranked 12th in WHIP at 1.28 and 18th in opponents’ batting average at .255. Now obviously the opponent’s batting average can go down, but the rest of it is pretty impressive. Knowing where the Yankees have stood before with pitching, they weren’t the prettiest of performances, but they got the job done. The bullpen has been a huge reason as to why the pitching staff is so good, and not just on paper.

The one pitcher that Joe Girardi has a lot of faith in is Cory Wade. This season Wade has 28 appearances, pitching a total of 28 innings. While that may not surprise you, it’s actually a pretty good stat for Wade. On the year, Wade has eight holds, one loss, one blown save, an ERA of 2.89, a WHIP of 1.00 and 30 strikeouts. Wade is more or less the work horse of the bullpen as he’s called upon the most. We saw last year how valuable he was to our staff and going forward, he’s definitely a crucial part of the bullpen. One great thing about Wade is that he has an assortment of pitches, around six, which is more than enough for a bullpen guy. He’s proven himself as one of the best bullpen pieces the Yankees have had in recent seasons.

Eppley and Rapada were huge mysteries coming into this year. While there were a few bullpen spots to fight for, both men earned their individual places in the pen. Eppley pitched in his debut season last year for the Texas Rangers. He only pitched in 10 games, so he was a bit of an experiment for Joe Girardi to use this year. Eppley, while still new to MLB, has pitched in 19 games this season for the Yankees. In his appearances, Eppley has totaled 19.1 innings with a 2.76 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP and eight strikeouts. The left-handed Rapada on the other hand has been around the game for awhile. He’s done well so far, pitching in 29 games for the Yankees, accruing five holds with an ERA of 3.26, a WHIP of 1.19 and 15 strikeouts inside of 19.1 innings pitched.

Logan has mainly earned his job as the 7th inning guy. What we saw a lot last year was Logan in the 7th, Robertson in the 8th and Rivera in the 9th to close out our games. It was a lethal combination and really, who is to say it can’t be done again? Logan is the lead left-handed pitcher in the bullpen and really, lefties are what the Yankees need. Logan actually has one save this season and has a total thus far of eight holds. On the year, Logan has a 2.28 ERA inside 23.2 innings pitched, with a 1.31 WHIP and 32 strikeouts.

The last major piece to the bullpen currently is Soriano. With the uncertainty of who the closer would be after Mo’s injury, Girardi went with Robertson. Robertson only got one save before getting injured, so Soriano was given the job as the 3rd closer in line. Soriano had a really rocky 2011, but so far has turned it around in 2012. Soriano has notched 13 saves this season as the closer, which is a role he’ll more than likely hold for the rest of 2012. His ERA is significantly lower from last year at 1.78 with a rather high WHIP of 1.42. He also has struck out 22 batters in a total of 25.1 innings pitched. If he can keep this up consistently, like he did in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays, our bullpen will be lights out.

Overall, I’m extremely impressed with the bullpen. All of the guys are doing well and we only have one guy with an ERA over 3.00. A rather unusual trend is the high WHIP with some guys, but I believe that will come down. Also, I refuse to mention Freddy Garcia because he’s absolutely worthless. Get rid of him and bring David Phelps back, I beg you Joe Girardi!

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Tags: Boone Logan Bullpen Clay Rapada Cody Eppley Cory Wade David Phelps David Robertson Freddy Garcia Mariano Rivera New York Yankees Rafael Soriano Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers

  • jkra0512_SK

    Great article, Ben. The bullpen has been outstanding despite missing The Greatest Closer Ever and Robertson for a while. What is scary to think about is that Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are on their way back. The good news, besides more quality bullpen arms, is that the Yankees don’t need to rush either one of them back. They can fully work out whatever they need to in extended stints in the minors. I’d even venture to ask, why not stretch Joba out again? (controversy!)
    A few surprises for me are Eppley (ROOGY) and the emergence of Boone Logan as a setup man. The disagreement I have is the Yankees absolutely made the right move sending Phelps down. He hasn’t pitched all that much and he’s more valuable to the club (now and into the future) as a starter, not in relief. Garcia, while I’m not a fan, doesn’t pitch all that much nowadays. However, when he has, he has pitched well considering his role (Think: extra innings game against Nationals last week).

    • thatonemlbguy

       @jkra0512_SK  thatonemlbguy Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, I actually have an idea for an article regarding David Phelps coming up, but other than that, our bullpen is really solid. I just really think having Freddy Garcia on the payroll is just a waste. We have a lot of talent in guys like Dellin Betances and eventually Manny Banuelos that will come up, so we need to prepare for them and dump Garcia.
      As for Joba and David Aardsma, I sometimes think we’d be better off just to cut our losses with them, especially Aardsma. He was always injury prone with Seattle, and the Yankees have had their fair share of those players (i.e. Carl Pavano and now Michael Pineda) so it was just a dumb move really. As for Joba, I like him, but how well can he pitch when he comes back? He hasn’t pitched since early 2011 and won’t be back til next year, maybe late this early if he’s that early.
      Thanks again for the feedback, it’s always appreciated. 

      • thatonemlbguy

         @jkra0512_SK Err, meant to say “maybe late this year if ‘s he’s that lucky”. My bad, my mind is still waking up.

      • jkra0512_SK

         @thatonemlbguy  thatonemlbguy 
        No way would I cut my losses with Joba and Aardsma. First off, Aardsma is a former closer who could definitely help the back end of the bullpen. Sure he was hurt and who knows how he’ll do going forward, but I think the track record grants him an opportunity.
        Meanwhile, Joba was EXCELLENT in his revised bullpen role (7th-8th inning). If this spring training taught us anything, you never have enough pitching. That’s not to say that if a team is willing to trade something of interest and they want these guys, the Yankees won’t do it. But, you can’t just give up on them just like that…in my opinion.

        • thatonemlbguy

           @jkra0512_SK Maybe not Joba because we’ve seen what he can do, but when has Aardsma actually been healthy and consistently not in the minors? Plus now he’s had two Tommy John surgeries. I kinda feel bad for the guy, but if he has a messed up arm that requires two extensive surgeries, not much that we can do. However we should keep an open mind on him, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go after next year. I’m sure he’d add some padding to the bullpen, but I’d take Joba over him in a heartbeat. Joba’s pitched not only in the majors for several years, but in New York at that.

  • arth65456

    I agree, but Phelps has starting potential so the Yankees want to put him down to stretch that arm. He was a guy who played the Hector Noesi from last year who can have versatile roles. Freddy isn’t doing much, but we have to give him credit for the good appearance he had against Washington. Plus, Banuelos and Betances aren’t doing great in AAA like they should and do we need another young pitcher with confused roles? If its not broke, don’t fix it.

    • jkra0512_SK

      Betances is a mess and, at this point, looks like he’ll be a reliever in the future. Definitely disappointing. As for Man-Ban, he’s either pitching horribly (walk machine) or he’s pitching well and gets hurt. At this point, Banuelos has more upside than Betances and will likely make the big club by 2014, while I can see Betances as a AAAA player.

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