It was a rough year coming down the stretch for the New York Yankees’ top bullpen pitchers, and come 2016 it’s clear they’ll need others to rely on as well.
The New York Yankees can use another key pitcher to have back-up in the bullpen this season and they might have exactly what they need in Jacob Lindgren.
The soon-to-be 23 year-old made his MLB debut last season for the Yankees after dominating the Triple-A level. His time in the Bronx was fairly short (as were a majority of call-ups last season). He’d need surgery shortly after being called back to Triple-A to remove a bone spur in his elbow and that would end his 2015 campaign.
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His numbers with the big league club don’t pop out, but Lindgren’s eight strikeouts in seven innings did showcase his nickname “The Strikeout Factory”. He also only gave up five hits, but three of them were homers, and he’d send four men to base on walks.
It did come up less than a month later he’d need the surgery that would end his 2015 run and keep us waiting until March 2016 to see how he’s been progressing. For now if you haven’t seen him pitch since last year there’s been good footage from team-workouts this last week. This video taken by Brendan Kuty from NJ.com can be found here.
Lindgren’s history is well known by now and most likely old news. The main question is if Lindgren is ready to take on the load of a full-time MLB bullpen member this season? Can he be that guy the Yankees can rely on when Dellin Betances isn’t ready to go in the seventh?
Another very realistic situation to look at is if Chasen Shreve could return to how he performed earlier in the 2015. I (personally) have faith he will, but it’s never safe to assume in these scenarios. With Adam Warren and Justin Wilson (two very reliable assets) gone it will put a lot of pressure on everyone who isn’t Betances, Andrew Miller, or Aroldis Chapman to shorten the ballgame.
One thing that’s for sure is ‘The Strikeout Machine” definitely knows a position is up for grabs and he is what some consider to be the front-runner for it. Going off of what was seen last season, I’d say he’s going to be everything the Yankees will need this season despite what happens with Shreve. His pitches have the movement to be lethal just as they are in the minors and the eight strikeouts prove it. He’ll be a ‘fresh’ 23 years-old by the time the season starts which means any delays the Yankees may see, he definitely has time to fix. Even though he isn’t a skyscraper like Betances, Lindgren’s slider still can gather the movement Dellin’s does to be a huge finisher as everyone saw last season.
Lindgren is rated as the Yankees’ seventh prospect by MLB Pipeline, and (besides the curious case of Rob Refsnyder) he appears to be the only one with a legitimate chance to be on the Yankees roster come Opening Day out of the top-10. If not then I’d expect Lindgren to be in the Bronx maybe before anyone else as the Yankees seem set at mainly all of their other positions.
This could make losing Warren and Wilson not seem as bad as it does with Lindgren possibly being an upgrade, and also preserving the bottom three guys as the Yankees didn’t successfully do last year. To make it short, Lindgren could be the most important wildcard in the bullpen whenever he is called upon.