The New York Yankees have presumably the best bullpen in all of baseball. More importantly they won’t be burnt out when it counts the most.
The New York Yankees have a four-headed monster in their bullpen currently with Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle. Pick any four bullpen arms in baseball and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better group. By the way, they’ve done it all without the services of Dellin Betances.
Throw in a mix of Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Jonathan Holder when he’s healthy and the Yankees have a healthy mix of elite talent and depth that a lot of teams don’t have. What sets them apart from the rest of baseball is how their bullpen is deployed.
The Yankees are the only team in baseball that has yet to use a reliever three days in a row. Everyone knows a major league season is a grind, and 162 games can really take a toll on guys, especially relievers who are asked to do a lot, especially for teams with World Series aspirations like the Yankees.
They had a stretch recently where they played 19 games in 17 days, including two double-headers — a stretch that doesn’t happen very often in baseball, even with constant rain outs at the beginning of the year. They’ve had a grand total of three off days since the second half started and have still managed to stick to their “rule.”
Of course it helps when you win games by sizable margins like the Yankees do (helped by beating up on the Orioles), but on the days they do have to deploy their big arms they’ve been virtually unbeatable. They’re 22-0 when all four of Ottavino, Britton, Kahnle and Chapman pitch and they’re 14-4 when any combination of those three pitch.
Suffice to say that the mandatory off day helps out a lot. Britton has said that it helps them stay fresh throughout the long season, but still have a decent amount of appearances. He also said that it helps their recovery as well, making it to where they don’t even have to throw because they know they’re not pitching on that third consecutive day.
The Yankees have lost games because of this rule, but when you’re hovering around 40 games over .500, and have a pretty sizable lead in the division, you are granted these luxuries. In the big picture, this is especially important because the Yankees don’t have a workhorse starter in their rotation.
They’re bottom third in the league in starts of at least six innings. Granted, they’ve been deploying the opener for the last couple months, but the fact still remains. Length from their starters has not been the strength of this team aside from a handful of gems from Masahiro Tanaka or Domingo German.
This rule would in all likelihood be abandoned once the postseason comes around, but think of it this way: The postseason is such a volatile scenario because anything can happen. The Red Sox had a shaky bullpen for most of 2018, but they got hot at the right time and got the job done.
The Yankees will be able to sleep better at night knowing that while the everyone else’s bullpens are burned out by October, their guys will be fresh (so to speak) and in all likelihood more talented than their opponents. Oh, and by the way, they’re going to get Betances back, which will give them five elite bullpen arms.
The Yankees will gladly lose a few battles to eventually win the war that is a World Series championship.