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Jonathan Holder has a realistic shot of making the All-Star team

Middle relievers have only recently started receiving universal recognition for their individual performance in Major League Baseball, due to the new age of numbers in the sport. Saves are no longer the all-telling, ultimate stat about a reliever’s success and WAR, ERA+, and other metrics have opened the eyes of fans on just how valuable it is for a team to have dominant relievers outside of the ninth inning role. Their widely agreed on importance has led to a lot of non-closer relievers making the All-Star team in recent seasons. The American League squad had two of them in 2017 and 2015, and a whopping four in 2016. If this trend continues, the AL should feature at least one or two non-closer relievers, and possibly more, with the scarcity of lockdown closers in the AL in 2018. The Yankees feature a lot of highly talented middle relievers and the pitcher who has surprised everyone the most, Jonathan Holder, has a very realistic shot of cracking the AL All-Star squad.

Can James Pazos Lock Down the 7th Inning in 2016?

This offseason has been full of Andrew Miller trade rumors, but the only late inning reliever the Yankees have traded so far is Justin Wilson. Wilson had a good year in his lone season in pinstripes, going 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 74 games. Wilson was a perfect fit for the 7th inning and now it’s the Yankees job this offseason to replace his role. One possibility of a replacement might already be on the roster and that pitcher is lefty James Pazos.

At this time last year, very few knew who James Pazos was. I personally didn’t know who he was and I follow the Yankees closer than anyone I know. During Spring Training this year, Pazos pitched 4.1 innings while allowing one run on two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. Pazos of course didn’t make the team out of Spring Training and started the 2015 season in AA where he pitched to a 1.86 ERA in six games. After a brief stint in Trenton, Pazos moved up to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and didn’t disappoint, pitching to a 1.09 ERA in 21 games. Pazos proved to be a strikeout machine as he averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings across both Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. As a reward for his terrific season in the minors, Pazos was a September call up and made his debut on September 5th, pitching two-thirds of an inning and picking up a strikeout. Pazos finished his first taste of the Major Leagues pitching in 11 games, not allowing a run on three hits, three walks, and three strikeouts across five innings.

Pazos has proven he can strike hitters out as he has averaged 9.6 punch outs across four minor league seasons and has shown to keep the ball in the yard as well, averaging 0.2 home runs allowed per nine innings in the minors. Some things to look out for though is that he has shown to be hittable (6.7 hits per 9 in minors) and to allow walks (3.3 BB per 9). Although there could be room for improvement, Pazos’ track record shows that he can be a big piece in the Yankees bullpen for the future and if he can recreate what he has done in the minors, the 7th inning role is not out of the question.

Article by: Julian Bussells
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