How should the Yankees bullpen shape up for the ALCS?
Well, here we are, the Yankees have beat the odds and made it to the ALCS. I’ll spare the stories of how this team should not have even been here, but I will share one of the reasons why they are: the bullpen. The Yankees bullpen has become one of if not the best bullpen in all of baseball. While they had a pretty good start, with Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and Aroldis Chapman, they quickly became great with the midseason acquisitions of Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and the emergence of one Chad Green.
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This bullpen has been instrumental in the Yankees postseason success. In the Wild Card game, they managed to piece together 8 2/3 innings of one run ball, and racked up 13 strike outs along the way. Not to be outdone, they then went into the ALDS and collectively gave the team 20 innings with 29 strikeouts and only allowed six runs (four of which came in game two). Those stats alone speak wonders to this bullpen’s dominance. If you are the opposing team and see any of these guys come trotting out to the mound, you know that runs are not going to be readily available. Each one of these guys can give you a clean inning and if called upon can give you multiple innings, as we have seen already in the Divisional Series and Wild Card game.
So then how do things shape up for the ALCS? How will Joe Girardi work his bullpen? While there truly is no wrong answer to the order of these guys, here is how I see things. At the top of the list, I personally see Joe bringing in Chad Green. Green has not pitched since game two of the ALDS, so he clearly has the freshest arm. While he did give up a grand slam to Francisco Lindor in his last appearance, Green has been as reliable as can be all season long. I think Joe needs to show his faith in Green and bring him in first to let him get back in his groove and get some work under belt. Next in line is a toss-up between Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. You really can’t go wrong with either of the two, but maybe the slight nod would be to Kahnle since Robertson threw in game five. Kahnle currently owns a 0.00 ERA, going five clean innings with six strike outs. The fireballer has only looked like he has gotten stronger as the playoffs have gone on. His last outing he looked nearly untouchable and there seems to be no signs of slowing down.
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Moving back to Robertson, he also has been a postseason master (nothing new to Yankees fans who remember his first tenure). Sometimes dubbed “Houdini”, Robertson always seems to be able to get out of a jam. His last act of magic was in relief of CC Sabathia in the fifth inning, with runners on first and second he was able to generate a double play to end the threat. He has also been a guy who eats up innings, going 3 1/3 in the Wild Card game and then 2 2/3 in the decisive game five in Cleveland. While not as squeaky clean as Kahnle, Robertson has only given up one earned run in the postseason. Next in line for the bullpen would be Adam Warren. While he has very limited work thus far in the postseason, he is still another valuable weapon. His lone outing this postseason was an okay one, giving up two hits and an earned run, but his season body of work (albeit limited by injury) and history shows that he can get batters out.
Jumping to the end of this bullpen, is Aroldis Chapman. He will remain the closer and the occasional six out guy, no questions asked. There was a point in time where Chapman was a giant question mark and seemed to be a complete wreck. He managed to pull it together and in the postseason has shown why the Yankees gave him that large contract. In his last four appearances (one in the Wild Card and three in the Divisional Series) he has racked up 10 strikeouts, and only allowed four hits. Safe to say that the best closer in baseball is back in a big way. The final guy in the bullpen is Dellin Betances. Dellin has seemingly been the Yankees eighth inning guy as long as he has been in the majors, but this year he has not been that same dominant guy coming in the eighth. His command has been sporadic, and he has been hit hard at times when he wasn’t throwing wild. I do hold a soft spot in my heart for the guy, but at this point the Yankees can’t afford any weak links. If they are to use him, it has to be either in a low leverage situation or with an extremely short leash (as we saw the other night). If Dellin can pull it together and get to his old self, then maybe he gets different treatment, but based off of his last outing I won’t hold my breathe but I do hope that I’m proven wrong.
Article by: AJ Welch