Yankees bolster bullpen even further by inking Adam Ottavino

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 20: Pitcher Adam Ottavino #0 of the Colorado Rockies is congratulated by teammate Chris Iannetta #22 after a 11-10 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks during an MLB game at Chase Field on July 20, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 20: Pitcher Adam Ottavino #0 of the Colorado Rockies is congratulated by teammate Chris Iannetta #22 after a 11-10 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks during an MLB game at Chase Field on July 20, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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After weeks of speculation, the Yankees have finally signed a right-handed free agent reliever — Adam Ottavino. The Brooklyn native will slide into the middle of the bullpen, joining a plethora of strong relief arms.

In passing on RHP David Robertson, just two weeks ago, the Yankees left a bullpen spot open, as well as salary space, for an additional reliever; cue Adam Ottavino.

The former Colorado Rockie is coming off the best season of his career, 112 strikeouts for a 13.0 K/9. In collaboration with just five home runs allowed led Ottavino to a 2.43 ERA over 77.2 innings.

An impressive  campaign for Ottavino, but a career not as fortunate would instigate that last season may have been a fluke. I don’t mean to say Ottavino is a bad pitcher; he’s not. He’s a solid reliever, worth the $9 million a year the Yanks agreed to.

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But Ottavino is not the star caliber relief pither many think he is. Last season was spectacular for the big righty, but he hasn’t shown the consistency we all would like to see; especially for a 33-year-old.

The 2017 season was a rough go-round for Ottavino, who posted a 5.06 ERA in just over 53 IP. Prior to that, Ottavino threw just 37.1 innings between 2015 and 2016.

Now those two seasons were lengths better regarding stats, 1.93 ERA, .804 WHIP while wielding strikeouts rates upwards of 30 percent.

But the lack of game time is a concern. Nevertheless, Ottavino has found a way to compete while aging. Having a potential five-pitch repertoire allows Ottavino a multitude of ways to get batters out.

Ottavino wasn’t always as complex a pitcher. His younger self combated MLB with just three pitches; a four-seam fastball, a slider and a changeup. But an experienced Ottavino has almost exterminated both his four-seam fastball and his changeup from the selection.

Perhaps the change was for the best. A five-pitch repertoire has turned into essentially just three pitches; his slider, sinker and cutter.

Under his new pitch selection, Ottavino has been his best self. In fact, his best seasons came in which he limited his four-seam usage to under 30 percent. A remarkable change in strategy, Ottavino has shown an innate ability to adapt to higher competition while aging, similarly to Yankee starter, J.A. Happ.

An overall good signing and a nice finishing touch to the Bombers’ bullpen, which has touted a premier collection of relievers over the past few years. My only major qualm resides in the length of Ottavino’s deal.

Three years is a lot for a reliever of his age. Ottavino hasn’t demonstrated his prowess long enough to earn the comfort of a three-year deal, primarily as a reliever that won’t be relied on as heavily as a part of the Yankees bullpen, as he would elsewhere.

If he keeps his fingers off the four-seam trigger and instead relies on his sinker and slider more often, as he did last season, I’d expect the best form of Brooklyn-native, Adam Ottavino.

Next. D.J. LeMahieu isn't an established utility player. dark

An interesting side note: the Yankees now have four members of the 2015 Colorado Rockies on their roster, Tommy Kahnle, D.J. LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Troy Tulowitzki; five if you include minor league signing, Rex Brothers.