Since the start of the 2017 season, the New York Yankees have boasted one of the best bullpens in all of Major League Baseball. Set up for success in 2022, it seems like fans would be looking at a sixth straight year of dominance.
But it’s May 23 and the Bombers are having serious issues with a previous pillar of strength, which is problematic for both the short and long term.
Chad Green is out for the season, as it was confirmed on Sunday he needs Tommy John surgery. Despite his struggles in high-leverage situations last year, Green has arguably been the Yankees’ most valuable reliever since 2017.
Then you have Aroldis Chapman, who bent, bent, bent, bent, bent some more, and then finally broke over his last five outings, each of which have featured at least one earned run. He’s struggling with velocity, control and pressure in save situations/high-leverage moments. And he’s playing hurt!
Then there are 2021 assets in Jonathan Loaisiga (7.02 ERA, 5.08 FIP) and Lucas Luetge (5.73 ERA, 3.28 FIP) who have become tremendous liabilities.
Even the “good” is starting to become concerning. Clay Holmes already has 21.2 innings under his belt six weeks into the season, while it’s unclear how long Michael King will be able to sustain this run of form in 2022 since he’s mostly been erratic with the team (and allowed two earned runs in another tough outing Saturday).
What’s going on with the New York Yankees bullpen in 2022?
Luis Gil, who likely could’ve been an option for multi-inning work after Green’s injury, is out for the year after requiring Tommy John surgery as well. That’ll likely be Clarke Schmidt’s permanent domain now.
As for the others? Pretty much self-explanatory. Wandy Peralta is Wandy Peralta and Miguel Castro is Miguel Castro. You know what you’re getting there.
The silver lining here is that every single Yankees’ starter has made eight starts and logged 40.1 or more innings, so the usual reliance the team places on the bullpen isn’t as urgent and necessary.
However, this does create a new Priority No. 1 task for general manager Brian Cashman leading up to this year’s trade deadline. Other options include promoting Ken Waldichuk and/or Hayden Wesneski, but the loss/disappearance of key veterans might call for more experienced replacements.
At the moment, the Yankees are third in MLB with a 3.06 relievers’ ERA, which is excellent, but there are some potential worrisome trends (12th in strikeouts, 9th in WHIP, 8th in batting average against) that could worsen with the previous hierarchy now massively being disrupted.
For now, it’s going to be a bumpy ride before Cashman and Co. can make the appropriate adjustments, but don’t expect anything substantial for at least a month.