The Battle of the Bullpens: AL East Edition
Last week I wrote an article comparing the Yankees offensive players to their counterparts on the other four teams in the division. With the news that promising youngster Greg Bird will miss the entire 2016 season this seems like a good time to mention some of the positives the Yankees have going for them. The bullpen in 2016 should be the Yankees strongest area but again not to be outdone as their four AL East foes have also done some retooling. Let’s see where the Yankees stand in the battle of the bullpens.
- CLOSER: Aroldis Chapman vs. Zach Britton (BAL), Craig Kimbrel (BOS), Brad Boxberger (TB), Roberto Osuna (TOR)
With five solid closers right here, this is, needless to say, a fairly impressive group. Chapman and Kimbrel are obviously the headliners here as the two have combined for multiple All-Star appearances. Boxberger had a very impressive 2015 for Tampa Bay. Osuna was lights out down the stretch for the AL East champion Jays and should only improve this year. Britton was a stud for the Orioles in 2015, posting a sub 2.00 ERA. Each team has nothing to worry about in 9th inning. Despite his off the field issues I have to give the edge the Cuban Missile on this one. A guy who throws 100+ MPH in the 9th inning is flat out terrifying.
Ranks: Chapman, Kimbrel, Britton, Boxberger, Osuna
- Set Up Men: Andrew Miller & Dellin Betances vs. Darren O’Day & TJ McFarland (BAL), Koji Uehara & Carson Smith (BOS), Danny Farquar & Xavier Cedeno (TB), Drew Storen & Brett Cecil (TOR)
Miller and Betances are among the main reasons that the Yankees were so competitive in 2015. Both were dominant in shutting the door on opposing teams offenses. Partnered with Aroldis Chapman the three form a trio the makes other teams knees shake. For Baltimore, O’Day and his side arm delivery make for a nightmare matchup. He was rewarded with a four year deal this offseason and will greatly shorten games for the O’s. While O’Day is the gold medal for Baltimore, McFarland is a nice wingman and a solid reliever who always seems to get the job done. With the addition of Craig Kimbrel the Red Sox will slide Koji Uehara into the 8th inning role. The ageless Uehara is coming off another fine season albeit one that was shortened due to injury. Carson Smith was acquired for starter Wade Miley from Seattle. He’s a hard throwing rightly who has great stuff but will have to transition from spacious Safeco the hitter friendly Fenway Park. Danny Farquar like Smith will experience his first year in the AL East coming from the Pacific Northwest. He’s had a run of success with the Mariners that he will bring to Tampa Bay and be the main set up man to Boxberger. Cedeno pitched more in 2015 than he ever has and will look to keep his sub 3.00 ERA going again in 2016. Drew Storen was the Nationals closer for many years and could fill that role should Osuna fail. Brett Cecil the lefty finesse specialist has had a career revival last year with the Jays, and he also sports a great set of shades. Again, another solid group but once again the Yankees come out on top with their duo of Miller and Betances.
Ranks: Miller & Betances, O’Day & McFarland, Uehara & Smith, Storen & Cecil, Farquar & Cedeno
- The Other Guys (“Ya should’ve shot A-Rod.”). PLEASE understand this reference readers…
NYY: Chasen Shreve, James Pazos, Nick Rumbelow, Bryan Mitchell
BAL: Brian Matusz, Jason Garcia, Chaz Roe, Brad Bach
BOS: Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross Jr, Tommy Layne, Noe Ramirez
TB: Alex Colome, Matt Andriese, Steven Geltz, Enny Romero
TOR: Aaron Sanchez, Aaron Loup, Drew Hutchison, Ryan Tepera
This is where the rankings get tricky. There are a few names in here of some pretty well known guys. This is also where you get a lot of interchangeable parts, players who will bounce up and down for AAA to the big leagues. If Shreve can be the player he was in the first half of the season then their already elite bullpen looks incredible. Mitchell, Rumbelow and Pazos are still question marks for now but the hope is that they will settle into their rolls. Toronto and Boston have a nice bottom four with some veterans and some specialists that can come in for that one big out. Per usual Tampa Bay is using glue and toothpicks to construct their pen and chances are that it will work out just fine because it always seems to. After Matusz the O’s bullpen looks like it could really use some help which is something Dan Duquette might want to look at mid year. This is a toss up but I have to give the slightest edge to the Blue Jays here.
Ranks, Toronto, Boston, New York, Tampa Bay, Baltimore
Winner: Blue Jays
OVERALL BEST BULLPEN: Yankees
If the Yankees are going to get back to baseball nirvana it will be due to their tremendous bullpen. You need your best players to perform and three of the Yankees best are waiting in innings 7,8 and 9. “Exit Light, Enter Night.” (With respect to Metallica and Mariano Rivera).
Keep an eye out for part three of the Yankees Rotation vs. the rest of the AL East.
Article by: Matt Cote
Follow me on Twitter @MCote31
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