Yankees: Will they eventually replace starting pitching altogether?

Reliever Dellin Betances (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Reliever Dellin Betances (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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Reliever Dellin Betances (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

The Yankees are forging a path that could lead baseball down a path it’s never been before. Could it be that soon, instead of announcing their starting pitcher for their next game, they announce their Pitching Committee?

The Yankees, led by their manager, Joe Girardi and a willing partner in Brian Cashman, have been inching their way to a top heavy reliance on their bullpen as a formula to win games.

Last night, for instance, a noticeably disturbed CC Sabathia was plucked from the game against the Rays short of completing five innings, and it wasn’t like Sabathia was getting lit up, it was more that Girardi was taking no chances in a game where his starter was just a little “off.”

And sure enough, the formula worked as Girardi called on a tandem of five relievers, each of whom threw their one inning of work, sat down, handed the ball to the next guy, the last of who happened to be (but he doesn’t have to be) Aroldis Chapman, who pitched the tenth and eleventh innings to earn the save.

This type of game is not an aberration for the Yankees; it’s destined to be their norm. Plus, the Yankees aren’t finished stocking their bullpen. As reported by YGY’s Mike Calendrillo, the team is interested in acquiring the much sought after reliever from the Tigers, Justin Wilson.

Yankees fans will recall the 1961 season, but not for the Mickey Mantle versus Roger Maris home run race to beat Babe Ruth and his sixty home runs in a season this time. They’ll recall, instead, a roly-poly left-hander from Puerto Rico, who much like Mariano Rivera and his cutter, baffled hitters with one pitch, a screwball and helped Whitey Ford to his best season ever as a Yankee.

Luis Arroyo appeared in sixty-five games as a relief pitcher and earned 23 saves, most of them for Ford, at a time when the “save” wasn’t even an official stat for Major League Baseball. We only know of Arroyo’s accomplishment because the Bible of Baseball at the time, the Sporting News, was recording the stat on its own until MLB officially introduced the “Save” in 1969.

My point, though, is that the Yankees have always been in the vanguard of baseball when it comes to how to use relief pitching and bullpens to win games. Following Arroyo, the trail is long with guys like Ryne Duren, one of the first to challenge hitters with a 95 mph fastball, the only pitch he had in his arsenal.

Sparky Lyle, Rich Gossage, Dave Righetti, and others I’m probably forgetting, all made careers for themselves as “closers” long before the word became a fixture in baseball’s vocabulary.

And now, get ready because I believe the Yankees are onto something they will introduce to baseball, perhaps not in this form, that will revolutionize the game as we know it today.

Let me explain.