Joe Girardi has often been criticized for playing it too much by the book when it comes to his handling of the bullpen. His tendency to make the righty/lefty move even when a pitcher is going well has frustrated many Yankees’ fans.
Right now Girardi has David Phelps,Vidal Nuno and Dellin Betances available among others. Phelps and Nuno both have had an opportunity to battle for a spot in the starting rotation, and Betances was once thought of as a future starter.
On the surface, even though Nuno, Phelps and Betances have the strength to consistently go multiple innings, the results don’t initially appear worth it.
Nuno had a 3.00 ERA in his first inning of an appearance last year. His ERA in a second inning of an appearance ballooned to 6.00. Phelps’ ERA in his first inning was 7.15. Although Betances had a good spring, his ERA coming out of the ‘pen in 2013 was 10.80. Of the three, Phelps performed the best in a second inning of work, when his ERA dropped to 3.27.
So why would Girardi consider using them the way he used David Huff for a significant part of Huff’s tenure? Because Phelps and Nuno both battled injuries last year and Betances’ enormous ERA came in only five innings of work.
And the good news is that he may not even have to. Sabathia seemed to find the answers this spring, and Nova was able to overcome his sixth inning struggles to pitch deep into games.
Kuroda is the one who may benefit the most from extensive bullpen help. With it, he may not fade the way he did late last season and give the Yankees a strong performance in the final month.