New-look Yankees bullpen has been glaringly awful in one key stat

That's not going to work much longer.
New York Yankees v Arizona Diamondbacks
New York Yankees v Arizona Diamondbacks / Zac BonDurant/GettyImages

The New York Yankees have been a bullpen-forward team for several years now, turning someone else's trash into treasure repeatedly thanks to Matt Blake's tutelage.

Unfortunately, in order for Blake to really work his magic, one key ingredient needs to be present from Day One: the ability to miss bats.

Through just over two weeks of the season, the Yankees' new-look bullpen has persisted, tied together by spit and gum without Jonathan Loaisiga, Scott Effross, Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino. A maximum of three of those people can still return in 2024, but it wouldn't be wise to rely on any of them to make a significant positive impact.

Unfortunately, the current crop of bullpen arms is a less-than-perfect match for the fielders who sit behind them. The Yankees' infield defense has been quite poor almost across the board in 2024; Anthony Volpe's DRS stands out, but his hands have fumbled a few big chances, contributing to what's befallen the rest of his teammates. Gleyber Torres has mostly been an eyesore, obscured only slightly by Anthony Rizzo's (concussion-addled?) backslide.

It's an issue, no matter who's on the mound, but the problem is magnified when the Yankees trot out relievers in close games who can't induce strikeouts, relying almost entirely on the defense holding steady behind them. And now, for at least a few weeks, there's no Jon Berti left to save them.

Yankees bullpen struggles with swing-and-miss, can't record strikeouts in clutch situations

According to Katie Sharp, the Yankees rank 28th in MLB in strikeout percentage from their relievers, around what you'd expect based on the eye test.

The same reason we've long wondered whether Clay Holmes is the best matchup for Rob Manfred's new-look extra innings has now pervaded the rest of the bullpen. The Yankees employ a lot of relievers who induce contact and hope for said contact to be soft/directly at a fielder. On Sunday, they were bitten by this premise; both Josh Naylor and Will Brennan rocked grounders that found gloves in the 10th inning before ultimately clanging off somebody.

The defense was unforgivable. Multiple times. But Caleb Ferguson, 3% below the league average in inducing strikeouts, had no recourse to possibly avoid the Yankees' deficient infield D coming into play. Jose Ramirez led off the inning, making it clear he'd be dictating the at-bat every step of the way. His Guardians teammates followed from there -- and, yes, got some lucky breaks, but again, you create those when you're eminently hittable.

Not included on River Avenue Blues' list above is Nick Burdi, the flamethrower who bailed the Yankees out of an earlier jam with some painted 99 MPH on Sunday, but can't exactly be counted on to be around for the long haul, due to his complex injury history. The more Burdis the Yankees can uncover the better, and despite a team ERA that ranks second in baseball (behind the ridiculous Red Sox), there's a clear Achilles heel here.

Add "swing-and-miss reliever" to the deadline wishlist, and maybe move it to the very top.