There seems to be a sentiment among sportswriters that the Yankees bullpen is not too great. The latest manifestation of this belief comes from Jeff Passan (h/t commenter J-Gao):
Certainly $200 million buys a lot. Not a bullpen. The Yankees could run into the same problem as last season with this bunch of characters: Damaso Marte, Brian Bruney, Jonathan Albaladejo and Edwar Ramirez. Not exactly the Nasty Boys.
This is a sentiment that entirely ignores the facts and numbers. The Yankees are returning last year’s pen, while adding a number of younger relievers who can fill in should anyone falter. Last year’s bullpen finished 7th in MLB in ERA despite being forced to throw the 6th most innings of any group of relievers. They finished 1st in strikeouts, were squarely in the middle of the pack on walks, and were 4th for OPS against. Basically, the 2008 Yankees bullpen was excellent, and there is no reason to expect anything different in 2009. There might be some slippage due to Joba spending the entire season in the rotation, but the team is also likely to have more length from their starters and to put less pressure on the pen. If Mark Melancon and Dave Robertson perform as their pedigrees would suggest, the Yankees are likely to be playing 6-inning games for the foreseeable future.
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