Last year the Yankees came into the season with the best trio of relievers in all of baseball. They were the Golden State Warriors of bullpens. It was arguably the greatest back end of a bullpen ever assembled, but is it possible that the 2017 bullpen will be better than 2016’s?
Let’s face it, the common denominator in this bullpen is that Andrew Miller isn’t in the bullpen any longer, but beyond that the Yankees may have actually improved their bullpen.
As it currently sits the Yankees will probably have Chapman, Betances, and Clippard available as their back end of their bullpen, but it’s the depth that the Yankees will thrive with this season.
Last season the Yankees had to turn to names like Swarzak, Yates, Goody, Barbato, and others in crucial moments of games. Girardi didn’t want to use the big three earlier in games when the Yankees needed to shut down a rally. This created a very weak spot in the Yankee bullpen. In fact, the Yankees had the worst team ERA between the fifth and seventh inning in all of baseball. For a team that was supposed to have such a great bullpen that number really sticks out.
The Yankees seem like they’re still looking for another relief arm, and that could possibly mean that Luis Severino will start the season in the rotation as opposed to the bullpen where he thrived and was possibly the Yankees best pitcher in the second half of 2016. Outside of the back end of the Yankee bullpen here is a comparison of the Yankees middle relief in comparison to last years.
2016: Swarzak, Yates, Barbato, Goody, Layne
2017: Warren, Layne, Severino (?), Shreve
Being able to go to either Warren, Severino, Shreve, or Layne in crucial points of the game could improve the Yankees record significantly. The best way to compensate for a mediocre starting rotation is to make a strong bullpen. In 2017 the Yankees should have more options that prove to be more reliable mid inning options for Girardi.
Don’t forget that Cashman has mentioned that the Yankees would like to add one more bullpen arm, so the pen could be even deeper. Also consider that young emerging stars such as Jonathan Holder are slated to get a chance at a full season with the big club this coming year.