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.
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!