Predictions Entering Yankees Spring Training
James Pazos will beat out Jacob Lindgren for an Opening Day bullpen spot
This theory is solely based on the premise of Aroldis Chapman receiving a suspension from MLB, although on Thursday morning reporters learned that Chapman plans to appeal any punishment that he may receive. For this article’s sake, let’s say that Chapman gets hit with one and is ineligible to begin the season on the roster. This would open another spot in the Yankees’ bullpen that only has cemented roles for Ivan Nova, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Chapman (when eligible). In particular, a Chapman suspension removes a left-handed pitcher from the mix and could leave the team looking at James Pazos or Jacob Lindgren to step in.
Last year, Pazos put up impressive numbers in the minors (1.27 ERA, 42.2 IP, 49 K, 15 BB) and fared nicely in a small sample size during his time in the majors (0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 3 K, 3 BB). He didn’t display the exceptional K/BB ratio that he had in the minors, but again he didn’t log that many innings with the Yankees so it could return to normality over a longer span. Lindgren, affectionately known as “The Strikeout Factory,” also posted exciting numbers in the minors, but was knocked around in his limited MLB exposure (5.14 ERA, 7 IP, 8 K, 4 BB). Too many of Lindgren’s pitches were either erratic or mistakes down the middle of the plate, at least up until June 21, when it was announced that the team’s top bullpen prospect would undergo surgery to remove a bone spur and be sidelined for the remainder of the 2015 season.
While Lindgren’s injury could have been nagging him well before the bone spur’s discovery, Pazos’ results outmatched Lindgren’s by a noticeable margin. “The Strikeout Factory” could benefit from shaking off some rust at Triple-A before jumping back into the big leagues. Meanwhile, Pazos should be a serviceable reliever until Chapman returns with his 100 mph fastballs.
Next: Who Rounds Out the Yankees Bullpen?