Yankees: Projecting bullpen roles after the Justin Wilson signing


The New York Yankees are undergoing the most unexpected facelift, but fans would probably collectively agree that it’s a good one.

General manager Brian Cashman has yet to spend big in free agency or orchestrate a blockbuster trade and this roster is looking like more of a contender than it has in quite some time.

Though we’ve already said goodbye to Masahiro Tanaka and we still don’t know what’s going on with Brett Gardner, the additions made this offseason are purely for October purposes, with the latest being relief pitcher Justin Wilson, who’s been with the Mets the last two years.

We’re still waiting on the details of the contract, but once it’s official, that’s another lefty for the ‘pen.

The Yankees are adding another lefty in Justin Wilson to a stacked bullpen.

The addition of Wilson (pending some insane reversal) truly makes this a complete unit. Over the last two years, manager Aaron Boone has had to rely all too much on the trio of Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman, and we hate to say it, but those guys simply cannot be available every single night.

And tossing other inexperienced/unreliable guys into high-leverage situations isn’t the answer, either.

Now with Wilson coming over via the 7 train, we probably won’t have to see Jonathan Loaisiga coming in during a tough spot against the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card round. Or we’ll be able to trust more than just the three aforementioned stars in a tight playoff series against the Rays.

If we’re strictly looking at bullpen roles, we know the Yankees are essentially employing a “by committee” system, with Aroldis Chapman remaining the closer when he’s healthy. Aside from that, everyone else comes in wherever Boone sees fit. We’ve seen Britton close and then come in for the sixth. Green used to serve as the opener! Wild times.

Nonetheless, here’s what we could be looking at, but with some adjustments.

On top of Wilson and Darren O’Day serving as middle relievers, it wouldn’t shock us to see them in some sort of a setup role at some point, which makes them more of a hybrid option. Cessa is a true middle relief option. Loaisiga is likely teetering between middle relief and long relief. And one could assume Nick Nelson has the upper hand over Michael King, with a chance to be more of a middle reliever due to his imposing mix of pitches.

So, if we could slightly revise:

  • Closer: Aroldis Chapman
  • Primary setup men: Zack Britton, Chad Green
  • Hybrid setup men/middle relievers: Justin Wilson, Darren O’Day
  • Middle relievers: Luis Cessa, Nick Nelson
  • Long reliever: Jonathan Loaisiga and Michael King

Not bad, right? Bringing two experienced guys like O’Day and Wilson aboard really gives the bullpen more character and strength, which will help others settle into a role of their own instead of constantly bouncing around.

A job well done, and a lot less stress for fans from innings 6-9.