Jeff Passan's fantasy baseball take gives Yankees fans unexpected bullpen scenario

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The New York Yankees' bullpen hierarchy is something that's beginning to ebb and flow now that the organization doesn't feel obligated to lock Aroldis Chapman into the ninth inning even if he's falling off a cliff. There's now a lot of flexibility with Chapman and Zack Britton out of the picture.

But there's also a lot of uncertainty. Though Clay Holmes, when he's on, is one of the most dominant relievers in the league, he's yet to maintain consistency, whether it's with his health or mechanics. Michael King is coming off a fractured elbow. He's looked good, but that's a serious injury to come back from. Lou Trivino is dealing with an elbow injury. Tommy Kahnle is dealing with a biceps injury. You never know what you're getting out of Jonathan Loaisiga.

The good news is that all of those arms range from "above average" to "really good," so it'll be "who's hot" situation when it comes to locking down the most important innings or facing the toughest batters of an opposing lineup.

ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan thinks that's especially the case, which he revealed in his 2023 MLB season preview under his Yankees blurb.

Specifically giving fantasy advice, Passan urged readers to save a roster spot for reliever Ron Marinaccio because he thinks the right-hander will be logging saves for manager Aaron Boone. Wow.

Yankees' Ron Marinaccio set to close games in 2023?

Ron Marinaccio: from being arbitrarily optioned back to Triple-A last season when he was pitching incredibly well to ... possible Yankees closer, according to Passan (subscription required).

"How to win your fantasy league: Steal Ron Marinaccio late in the draft and hope he can vulture a few saves -- and maybe even wind up as closer, with Clay Holmes' grasp on the job tenuous. If Marinaccio can bring his walk rate closer to minor league levels (3.5 per nine) than where it was last season (4.9), his elite strikeout rate and ERA will play even better in deep leagues."

Jeff Passan, ESPN

OK, Jeff! Since we love Marinaccio, too, we'll heed your advice with our fantasy drafts right around the corner and Opening Day in less than a week!

In 2022, the 27-year-old finished with a 2.05 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 1.05 WHIP and 56 strikeouts in 40 games (44 innings). So far this spring, he's maintained a 1.42 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 12 strikeouts in five games (6.1 innings). Looks like he's ready to pick up right where he left off ...

... and then possibly ascend to the top job in the bullpen when Boone determines it's the right time.