Numbers prove Adam Ottavino should be moving up Yankees’ trust tree


Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino should be more trusted by Aaron Boone at this point.

The New York Yankees don’t have quite the red, glaring “BULLPEN PROBLEM” they were dealing with the last time the team was in Buffalo, but things are certainly more up in the air entering October than they’ve been for several seasons.

David Robertson, the bullpen’s solidifier, left after the 2018 season to sign an expensive free agent contract in Philadelphia, which unfortunately hasn’t worked out. Tommy Kahnle, their secret weapon, underwent Tommy John surgery this summer, and the team has very much missed his energy.

Add in Jonathan Loaisiga’s flop on Monday following his recent absence, and the Playoff Trust Tree reads: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Zack Britton … Jonathan Holder? How can this be?

In actuality, though, despite his lower-leverage use in recent weeks, Adam Ottavino is likely crisper than any of the options remaining outside of the Big 3, and a deeper dive into his numbers will show you he’s probably ready to be counted among the valuable.

Outside of the most nightmarish outing you’ll ever see two weeks ago in Buffalo — we’ll spare you the gory details — Ottavino’s numbers are actually right in line with his status as an elite reliever. Most of the time, he’s been spotless.

Of course, that’s a bit disingenuous — after all, the Toronto game did happen — but we’re not arguing that Ottavino has had a perfect season. We’re just attempting to make it known he’s not a true-talent 6.06 ERA guy, even in a tough 2020.

Nobody’s statistics are more likely to undergo big swings in a shortened ’20 than relievers, and the disaster he found himself in during the huge blemish (inherited bases loaded, no chance to get them to chase his breaking ball, the necessity of living in the zone) was at least partially responsible for the crooked number. Or, at least, that’s a far more likely explanation than Toronto knowing the signs.

And in the aftermath of that game, Ottavino has entered in lower-pressure situations, and flourished, putting it almost immediately behind him. Very effective play by Aaron Boone.

Ottavino’s drastic breakers turned a lot of people off in October last year. When he was lost, and when the zone disappeared on him, he really had no opportunity to right the ship.

But more often than not in 2020, he’s been exactly as advertised. Without the implosion on his record, Otto’s got a 2.60 ERA, and he entered that horrible game at 3.55. If nothing else, that’s worth a look over Holder when the lights get a little bit brighter.