Yankees: Who can internally fill the remaining bullpen openings?

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 08: Stephen Tarpley #71 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 08, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Stephen Tarpley is a dark-horse candidate to start the 2019 season in the Bronx. The 25-year old left-hander got a cup of coffee in the big leagues at the tail-end of the 2018 campaign, getting the call-up on September 1, 2018.

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Having spent most of the season between Double-A and Triple-A, the young lefty certainly made the most out of the opportunity, as he made the Yankees roster for the 2018 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. In 9.0 innings pitched Tarpley collected a 3.00 ERA and allowed six hits, six walks, and three runs (all earned) while fanning 13 batters. No doubt a small sample size, but certainly impressive after making his debut throughout a playoff race.

What’s going to keep Tarpley from riding the Scranton Shuttle and keep a spot on the 25-man roster is getting out hitters from both sides of the plate, not just lefties. Left-handed specialists are simply becoming extinct from Major League bullpens.

These were Tarpley’s splits between lefties and righties from both the Minors and Majors 2018:

RH Hitters: 202 PA, 33 H, 24 BB, 49 K,

LH Hitters: 115 PA, 14 H, 8 BB, 35 K

Tarpley’s numbers are better against lefties based on the number of hits and walks allowed. However, splits are difficult really dissect because game leverage isn’t put into the equation, hence allowed runs are almost irrelevant.

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Regardless, Tarpley must improve against right-handed hitters to cement himself a spot in the Yankees pen. The lefty really emerged as a potential bullpen candidate this past season. Let’s see if Tarpley can build on that momentum heading into the 2019 campaign.