2015 New York Yankees Bullpen Preview

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USA Today.com

With four of the five candidates for the starting rotation having injury concerns, the need for a strong bullpen cannot be overstated for the 2015 New York Yankees.  Couple this with the loss of David Robertson to the Chicago White Sox and the need for an offseason makeover was apparent.  All is not lost however, as GM Brian Cashman retooled through free agency and trades to complement last years rookie sensation Dellin Betances.   A squadron of power arms has the present and future looking bright for the late innings in the Bronx.

In the Bronx:

Betances and the newly signed Andrew Miller will be the featured two headed monster in the bullpen for the Yankees in 2015.  The 26-year-old Betances had 135 strikeouts and a 1.40 ERA in 90.0 innings pitched as the set up man last season.  The 6-foot-8 right hander posted a 3.2 WAR last year, which was highest in MLB.   The questions that have to be asked are obviously that these numbers were compiled during his rookie season and with the benefit of Robertson being in line behind him.  Can he sustain these numbers if he is moved into another role?  Is he too valuable to limit to single inning closer duties when he has shown the ability to pitch multiple high leverage innings?

Photo credit: nj.com

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Miller signed a 4 year, $36 million deal in the off-season to help bolster the bullpen.  His late inning presence helped lead the Baltimore Orioles to an appearance in the ALCS in 2014.  Miller is a diverse figure who owns lefties and righties. In 2014,  Miller’s splits reveal that lefties hit .161 against him, righties hit .142.  Betances had similar splits: lefties batted .161 against him, righties batted .133. These are two of the most useful, versatile bullpen fixtures in baseball.  Miller also had 103 strikeouts against 17 walks last year. The lefty is another candidate to be featured throughout various tense, late-inning spots.

While the order of the previous two mentioned relievers is up in the air, the seventh inning role should fall to David Carpenter.  Carpenter, acquired from the Atlanta Braves, should take over for the departed Shawn Kelley.  Carpenter had a down year in 2014, but still struck out 67 batters in 61 innings.  A fastball/slider right-hander, Carpenter’s average career fastball velocity is 95 mph.  He is another hard thrower capable of assuming any role needed.  He should be an upgrade over the aforementioned Kelley, with opponents having batted just .198 off of him in 2013 and .256 last year.

The rest of the bullpen will shake out depending on how the starting rotation shapes up.  Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers are both in consideration for the 5th starter spot during Spring Training.  If that spot ends up going to Chris Capuano, Warren would return to his middle relief role from 2014 and Rogers probably the long man.  Warren started out the season very strong, but struggled to the finish line.  He still posted a very rspectable 2.97 ERA and will pitch just in front of Carpenter.  Rogers is a reclamation project from the Blue Jays and had a 4.68 ERA in 25 innings.  His situation is very fluid and easily could find himself on the outside looking in if he struggles this spring.

Justin Wilson will be the LOOGY in 2015.  He came over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Francisco Cervelli deal.  Wilson also fares very well against both righties and lefties which gives the pen even more versatility.  His numbers have been consistent since 2012 and gives the Yankees another in a long line of power arm relievers they are stockpiling.

Next in line:

Dan Burawa

Burawa has struggled at times with command, but if he can harness his potential, could easily find himself heading north with the Yankees out of Spring Training.  The 25-year-old managed to hold opponents to a .258 average while striking out 73 in 59.1 innings.

Andrew Bailey

Bailey was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2009, but he has struggled to remain healthy ever since.  He was signed to a minor league deal in 2014 while rehabbing from shoulder surgery.  If he can pitch anywhere near his former self, he could be an interesting piece to the puzzle having amassed 75 major league saves in his career.  If nothing else, he will provide necessary depth during the season.

Jacob Lindgren

Photo credit: yanksgoyard.com

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Drafted in the second round in 2014 out of Mississippi State, the left handed Lindgren rocketed up to Double A in his short time with the Yankees.  He struck out 48 in 25 innings and appears to be on the fast track to the Bronx.  If he doesn’t start out the season in New York, he will be one of the first call-ups to make an appearance.

Chase Whitley

After being called up and giving the Yankees seven decent starts, the former 15th round draft pick will find himself in the mix for a spot in Joe Girardi’s bullpen. He most likely will fit in as a long-man/spot-starter at the big league level in 2015, but with Esmil Rogers re-signing, the most probable scenario has him starting the season in Scranton.

Chasen Shreve

Acquired from Atlanta in the Manny Banuelos trade, Shreve joins Jacob Lindgren and Tyler Webb as the top three relief lefties in the organization. At 24 years old, Shreve joined the Braves bullpen late in the season and struck out 15 and walked only three batters in 12.1 innings. He will get a long look in spring training, but the Yankees can afford to send him back to Triple-A for a time.

Nick Rumbelow

The right handed Rumbelow ran roughshod over four levels of the minors in 2014.  He pitched to a 2.61 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 58.1 innings of work.  Not being on the 40 man roster will probably mean a start to the season at AAA Scranton, but has the ability to work out of the Yankees pen at any given time.

The Yankees are stock full of versatile, power arms for their bullpen.  This should bode well in the present and future in case of need because of injury of lack of effectiveness.  It is definitely a position of strength from the majors all through all levels of the minors.

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