The Yankees Bullpen Could Possibly Be Their Savior In 2017
If the 2017 Yankees defy all odds and contend for the postseason, perhaps the savior will be their bullpen. While the Yankees front office seems committed to their current youth movement, Brian Cashman said he expects the team to contend. Could it be possible with their starting pitching? Though it’s a long shot, they could seriously contend, but they need to shorten the game.
The idea is hardly original. The Royals used a similar strategy to win a World Series in 2015. In the late 90’s the Yankees did as well. The blueprint was perfected by the Oakland A’s in the late 80’s, etc. The point is, the Yankees just don’t have a deep enough rotation. The bullpen, however, has some legitimate arms.
For instance, Adam Warren and Luis Severino, both considered options as starters, might better serve the team in relief. Each can pitch multiple innings. Severino struggled mightily as a starter in 2016. Though the sample size is small, his relief numbers were dominant. While Warren has worn many hats for the team, he thrived in 2014 as a mid-inning stopper.
At the back of the bullpen, the Yankees have Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman. Each is capable of closing the door on the opposition. The strategy would be to get the starters to the sixth inning. At the very least. Preferably with a lead.
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Having someone like Severino come in to shut down the sixth and possibly seventh before giving way to Betances and Chapman could keep the Yankees in contention. While it seems like wishful thinking, if the team hopes to compete, they need a system in place to give them an edge.
The biggest obstacle will be getting a lead to give over to the bullpen. Last years’ vaunted pen of Chapman, Betances and Andrew Miller never had a chance to live up to their potential, mostly due to a failure to cultivate runs. With Gary Sanchez and Matt Holliday being the most legit power threats, the 2017 squad will need to manufacture some runs. But that’s a story for another day.
Right now, the Yankees need to evaluate the talent they have. Luis Severino could be that great equalizer, perhaps similar to the role Mariano Rivera held in 1996. If he were to join a bullpen that boasts Warren, Clippard, Betances and Chapman, his impact could help make sure the outcome of the game is decided sooner.
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They’ll need another young arm and a lefty with some filthy movement to fill out the bullpen, but if they are to contend for any spot in the postseason, the relief corps will be an important part of it.