Yankees Bullpen; Strength or Cause for Concern?

Fangraphs has been often quoted this season for writing in it’s ZiPS projections that the New York Yankees’ bullpen will have “a possibly historic” season and after seven games, Yankees fans are wondering when they can begin to see that happen.

It’s April 6 and we’re seven games into the new season; the bullpen has a combined ERA of 6.64 with 22 hits, 16 earned runs, and four home runs in 21 1/3 innings pitched.

In 2017, the Yankees bullpen was the best in the league. Mike Petriello of MLB.com wrote:

“The 2017 Yankees relievers were elite, by any metric you care to use. They had the third-lowest ERA (3.34); the lowest average against (.204); the highest strikeout rate (29.1 percent); the most Wins Above Replacement (9.2). They were good.”

In baseball, however, a pitcher is only as good as his last outing and 2018 has yet to see the relievers reprise their performances of ’17.

As you can see, every reliever, except Aroldis Chapman, has a bloated ERA compared to last season, and no reliever, with the exceptions of Adam Warren and Chasen Shreve, are anywhere near their ZiPS projected ERAs.

Despite the ZiPS projected ERAs being on the high side, the chart reveals two things about the Yankee relievers: one, it puts into perspective that they’re not as bad as their season opening numbers would seem to suggest, and two, they will have to prove all over again that they’re as good as their 2017 numbers attest.

Meanwhile, manager Aaron Boone is not worried. Boone told Brendan Kuty of N.J.com:

"I'm not because I'm not seeing any downtick in the stuff," he said after the loss. "I just think they've gotten us a couple of times. No. I'm not concerned about it. There's no red flags to me as far as drop in stuff or where you might think guys might be at this time of the year. I feel like, for the most part, they have been pretty well rested and on regular kind of in the regular mode. I think it's just a matter of settling into the season but no red flags for me stuff-wise.”

Let’s hope the fourth worst bullpen, according to Brendan Kuty, (behind the Nationals, White Sox and Royals) in Major League Baseball gets it going today, particularly with CC Sabathia on the mound, who predominantly pitches six innings. It’s time for the bullpen to start making some history.


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