View My Stats

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A look at the Yankees by position: Relief pitchers

As we move along in the Yankees spring training season I will be looking at probably the main strength of the 2011 New York Yankees team, the bullpen. I will look at guys like future hall of famer Mariano Rivera to lefty specialists like Boone Logan and Pedro Feliciano.

Closer Mariano Rivera: Ho-hum, just another season for the future hall of famer in which he posted 30 or more saves and an ERA under two. Last year Mariano posted a 1.80 ERA and saved 33. Another amazing statistic that doesn't involve strikeouts, or saves, or ERA, is the fact that for his 15th straight season, Mariano Rivera has allowed less hits in a season then innings pitched. The last time he allowed more hits than innings pitched was in 1995, which was his very first season in the big leagues, where he allowed 71 hits in 67 innings pitched. Last season with an even 60 innings under his belt he allowed just 39 hits. The guy is truely amazing, and at 41 years old the Panamanian keeps going strong. But if there is one thing that concerns you just a little it's the fact that he only struck out 45 batters in his 60 innings of work. The last time he had less strikeouts than innings pitched was in 2006 where he pitched 75 innings and collected 55 K's. The only question for Rivera is; will he be able to keep it going now that he's over 40 years old? He's had 10 different seasons in his career where he has had an ERA below two and has collected more than 30 saves in the same season, and last year was one of those years. The guy is human, or at least we think so, and he'll eventually have to slow down. But, based on his 2010 performance he shows no signs of slowing down at all.

Set-up man. Rafael Soriano: After losing on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, the Yankees looked to bolster their bullpen. And although GM Brian Cashman may not have approved of it, the Yankees front office stepped up and signed the former Tampa Bay Ray to be their set-up man until Mariano Rivera retires, even though they had to give up a 2012 first round draft pick up to their rivals. Rafael Soriano is probably the best free agent signing the Yankees had during the offseason. Last year for the Rays, Soriano posted a 1.73 ERA with a league high 45 saves, thus earning his first All Star appearance, Cy Young vote, and MVP vote. Soriano has proven he can be a closer or set-up. You know he can close, but as a set-up man with the Atlanta Braves in 2007 he had an even 3.00 ERA, but allowed just 47 hits in 72 innings pitched. And the year before with the Seattle Mariners he had a 2.25 ERA in 60 innings pitch, allowing just 44 hits. So the only question for Soriano is; how will he be able to handle New York? It's a whole new ball game pitching in the Bronx than it is Tampa Bay, Atlanta, or Seattle. But Soriano seems like a smart guy, he knows what he's doing, and the guy that follows him, Mariano Rivera, will be able to help him out like Mo did with Kerry Wood last year.

7th inning man. David Robertson: David Robertson is entering his third full season with the Yankees, and he's proven he can be a very solid reliever. Over the last two seasons Robertson has struck out 134 batters in just 105 innings pitched. That’s a very good stat especially with relievers who only pitch a short amount of time. Robertson is very valuable to this team because he can come in to face a batter or three and get a key strikeout or three to get out of a jam. The only concern for Robertson is in the first two months of the season in his career that spans from 2008, he has an ERA of 5.78 while having a WHIP of 1.83. But come June through September his ERA drops more than two runs to 3.61, and his WHIP falls to 1.37. So, the only question for Robertson is; will he be able to get off to a better start so he can have a really great season? It would be even bigger if he did, because the Yankees would have a 1-2-3 punch in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings of games in Robertson, Soriano, and Rivera.

Middle relief. Joba Chamberlain: After adding 25 pounds to his already bulky frame, Joba Chamberlain doubters came out quickly, especially for someone who had taken a lot of heat last season. But from seeing him a handful of times this spring, it looks as though he gained muscle on the upper part of his body, which could help with his inconsistent velocity on his fastball. So far this spring, in three innings of work, Joba has given up two runs and struck out a batter. Obviously, it's a little early for the jury to decide on this one, but we'll evaluate as the season goes along. As to be expected, the question for Chamberlain is; how will the added weight affect him? It will be interesting to see if he can stay consistent with his velocity on his fastball. If the Yankees can get him anywhere near what he did in 2007 they will be in good shape.

Lefty specialist. Pedro Feliciano: Feliciano switched sides in the Yankees/Mets rivalry by signing a two year, $9 million dollar deal to be one of the lefties for the Yankees out of the 'pen. This was a necessary move that the Yankees needed, because Damaso Marte will be out the majority, if not all, of the 2011 season. With the Mets, Feliciano set the Major League record for appearances from 2008-2010 with 86, 88, and 92, respectively. I don't know if the Yankees will use him that many times out the bullpen because the Yankees have another lefty specialist, Boone Logan that they can turn to. The real question for Feliciano is; will the combined 266 appearances out the bullpen finally take toll on his arm? Even though he probably won't be used as much, it will be interesting to see if it affects him.

Lefty specialist. Boone Logan: Logan was a pleasant surprise for the Yankees last year when he got called up because of the injury to Damaso Marte. In 51 games last year the lefty Logan pitched to a strong 2.93 ERA, and in his 40 innings pitched he allowed just 34 hits. The second half of the season for Logan was even better; In 34 games Logan pitched to a 2.08 ERA. Also, in his 21.2 innings pitched he struck out 25 batters and allowed just 14 hits. Unfortunately for Logan he struggled in the postseason, most notably in the ALCS against the Texas Rangers. In two thirds of an inning of work Logan gave up two runs, and he couldn't get Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton out, as he gave up hits both times he faced him, including a homer. The question for Logan is; will he be able to repeat his performance from last season? He may be competing with Feliciano as the primary lefty out of the bullpen, but he's pretty much a lock to make the trip up north with the rest of the team come later this month.
There you have it, the final Yankees preview by position. The spots in the bullpen are pretty much locked up unless someone gets injured. Stay tuned, as I will go outside the Yankees organization by looking at each division and giving a brief preview about each team.

No comments:

Post a Comment