Shaping The Bullpen With Andrew Miller
Prior to Friday, there were some questions surrounding the Yankees bullpen in 2015. Would the team re-sign David Robertson? If not, who would be the closer? How would the rest of the bullpen look? However, many of those questions were answered with one move: the signing of Andrew Miller.
Though there are still deals to be made and players to be moved, here is how the Yankees bullpen could look in 2015:
Long Relievers: David Phelps, Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley, Bryan Mitchell
Though at least two of these four will either be in the minor leagues, traded, or in the starting rotation they’re all possible long relief and spot-start options.
In his third big league season Phelps had several appearances as both a starter and reliever. Though he wasn’t incredibly effective in either role, there was a sizable difference in his numbers.
In 17 starts (96 innings pitched), he went 5-5 with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. His bullpen numbers were even worse. During his 15 relief appearances (16.1 innings pitched), he posted a 4,96 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP.
It’s difficult to tell where to put Phelps would be best suited. However, unless he is dealt expect to see him in the big leagues when the season starts.
Whitely is in the same boat, as his ERA as both a starter (4.76) and reliever (6.88) were very high.
Rogers and Mitchell were both nice additions to the roster down the stretch as they were able to pitch multiple innings out of the pen when needed. Unfortunately, there is likely only room for one of them.
Middle Relievers/7th inning: Shawn Kelley, Jacob Lindgren, Adam Warren, and Justin Wilson
Kelley and Wilson had similar performances in 2014 as they both struggled at times, but showed flashes of dominance.
Much like his first season in the Bronx, Kelley was relatively effective in the first half of 2014 (1-2 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 30 appearances) but struggled in the second half (2-4 with a 5.48 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in 29 games.) His inconsistency could cost him a spot with the team this coming year, especially with the recent additions.
One of these additions is hard-throwing lefty Justin Wilson who was acquired in exchange for Francisco Cervelli in a trade with the Pirates. He also struggled a bit this past season but might be trusted a bit more in close games due to more recent success.
2013 saw him post a stellar 2.08 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and a .192 batting average against. Unfortunately, he faltered in the first half of 2014 going 1-3 with an inflated 4.89 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.
However, he turned his season around after the All-Star break as he put up an 0-3 record with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Another pitcher who could be added to the big league roster (provided he pitches well in Spring Training) is 2014 second round pick Jacob Lindgren.
He began his season in the rookie ball but quickly moved up the ranks and eventually landed in AA with the Trenton Thunder. Between four levels of the minor leagues, he went 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and an astonishing K/9 rate of 17.3 in 19 games (25 innings pitched.) He is definitely on the fast track for a middle relief spot in the Bronx.
Adam Warren is a very strong candidate for the seventh inning slot. Thanks to an unexpected velocity increase he went 3-6 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 69 games (78.2 innings pitched.)
8th Inning/Closer: Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances
Though neither pitcher has any real closing experience (1 career save between them), they both have the stuff for the job.
Miller. who was signed to a 4-year deal worth $36 million on Friday, began his career as a starter but was converted to a reliever after a number of failed attempts in his teams rotation. Prior to 2014, he already had two very strong seasons out of the Red Sox bullpen under his belt.
After pitching well for Boston at the start of 2014 (with an ERA of 2.34, a 0.90 WHIP, and a K/9 rate of 14.7 in 50 games), he was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline.
Once he arrived in Baltimore he got even better, posting a 1.35 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, and an increased K/9 rate of 15.3 in 23 games. He finished the season with a 2.02 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP, a 14.9 K/9 rate, and an opponents batting average of .153 in 73 games (62.1 innings pitched.)
Betances is also a failed starter who found his niche in the bullpen and found himself in the big leagues at the start of 2014.
After earning a spot out of Spring Training, he put one of the best seasons that a Yankees reliever has ever had. He went 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and a .149 batting average against. He also broke Mariano Rivera‘s Yankees record for strikeouts by a reliever with 135 in 90 innings pitched.
Assuming the Yankees don’t re-sign David Robertson, the closer will either be Betances or Miller.