Yankees Projected Bullpen Entering 2024 MLB Season
Assuming the Yankees carry a five-man rotation, nine-man lineup, and four-man bench, the Opening Day bullpen will likely run eight names deep. If Yoshinobu Yamamoto requires a sixth starter, bump that 'pen crew down to seven and run Clarke Schmidt out on his throw day (half-kidding).
Eight seems safe, though, and these names stand out among the rest for Opening Day duties:
Closer: Clay Holmes
Setup Men: Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ian Hamilton (moving up the pecking order!)
Middle Innings: Scott Effross, Victor González, Luis Gil, Ron Marinaccio
Some of the shine came off Marinaccio's apple during his catastrophic fall last summer, but he has the pedigree to be a successful late-inning arm in this league if he can regain his control and enhance his world-class changeup's potency. To be unfair here, though, the Toms River native had a whale of a time getting his groove back in 14 Triple-A games last summer, posting an 8.80 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. There is certainly a chance he's still struggling to overcome a mental blockade when 2024 arrives, and he's likely on the lowest rung of the demotion ladder, as well as the first to go if New York does bring in another free agent name like Peralta, Middleton, or Jordan Hicks.
Rumors of the Yankees building a "super bullpen" if they strike out in the Yamamoto chase have likely been overblown; Josh Hader has eternally been out of their price range, and Hicks likely has a ton of competition for his services. Robert Stephenson, a coveted ex-Ray, makes sense if the commitment is within reason. It's highly possible that González, the Peralta-esque lefty and 2020 Dodgers World Series hero, is the unit's only major import this winter.
At this point, it seems fairer to project that Gil, a returning fireballer, and Effross, 2022's major deadline acquisition who should be recovered from Tommy John entering camp, will be the Yankees' major additions to the unit. Matt Krook, Nick Ramirez, and Yoéndrys Gomez will be waiting in the wings, as well as Will Warren in both starting and relief roles.