Despite the Yankees recent offensive struggles, and injuries to the starting rotation, the Yankee bullpen has been holding it down this summer. There hasn’t been much written about the pen’s success of late, so I might as well give them some props for turning what has often been an Achilles heel for the Yankees into a strength. With Damaso Marte on the DL, one would expect the bullpen depth to be short, but the Kerry Wood acquisition, along with solid performances by a number of other guys, have helped keep things together. Let’s take a look at what they have been doing since July 1. Obviously, small sample sizes apply, but the trends are looking good. By the way, I take no responsibility if the bullpen blows up on us tonight.
Kerry Wood: Since his acquisition by the Yankees at the trade deadline, Wood has looked like a useful middle reliever through 7 outings. In 8 1/3 innings in August, Wood is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA, and 11 strikeouts against 6 hits and 6 walks. Wood has not been as good as his ERA (and the small sample size will make these stats look funky), but so far, Wood has been more or less what we could have hoped him to be. He has shown the ability to strike batters out, while not being too hittable. The walk rate is too high, but that’s part of the deal with a hard thrower like Wood.
Boone Logan: Since being recalled from the minors in July, Logan has proved to be more than adequate replacement for the injured Marte. In 13 games (10 1/3 innings), the hard-throwing lefty is 0-0 with an 0.87 ERA, and best of all, 11 strikeouts against only 1 walk and 4 hits. Logan has just allowed 1 hit to a left-handed batter since the All-Star break, and has also been effective against righties too. Many in the blogosphere (myself included) were frustrated with Joe Girardi’s frequent usage of Logan early in the season, when he was not pitching effectively. Of late, however, Logan has been lights-out, and has been a key component in stabilizing the Yankee bullpen. He’s been more than just a great lefty specialist, and the fact that he is hitting 95 with some command from the left side bodes well for his future success. He’s an underrated acquisition from teh Vazquez trade.
Sergio Mitre: Mitre is your classic mediocre swingman, but in his 6 bullpen outings in July and August (excluding his spot start on July 24), Mitre has been pretty solid. In those 6 outings, Mitre has thrown 9 2/3 innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 6 strikeouts. If the last man in the bullpen and your long reliever is pitching this well, things are looking pretty good.
David Robertson: After a rough start to the season for Robertson, he has settled down, and become the reliable setup man the Yankees believed he could be. Since July 1, the Yankees have used Robertson fairly often, 18 outings and 17 2/3 innings. In those 17 2/3 innings, Robertson has allowed 4 runs (all on July 2) 11 hits and 10 walks, with 22 strikeouts, and no home runs. You’d like to see him lower the walk rate somewhat, but the strikeouts and the low hit rate are very impressive. He has definitely established himself as the go-to 7th-inning guy, and probably the person the Yankees would call upon when they need a big strikeout.
Joba Chamberlain: Joba is the only Yankee reliever who has pitched below what he is capable of since July 1. In 19 2/3 innings, Joba has allowed 8 runs (4.12 ERA) on 19 hits and 8 walks, with 18 strikeouts. He has been better in August than he was in July, but is still capable of having mini-meltdowns that lead to big innings (such as a 4-run stinker on July 10). Chamberlain has not been lights-out, but his performance has stabilized of late, and he should be fine as the 8th-inning guy going forward.
Mariano Rivera: Since July 1: 14 IP, 2 runs (1.29 ERA), 12 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts. Not much else to say. He’s still very good at this pitching thing.
Obviously this is just a 6-week sample, but things have been looking good for the ‘pen of late. The ability of the Yankee starters to go deep into games on a regular basis has prevented the type of overuse that has worn down Yankee bullpens of years past, and Joe Girardi deserves some credit (blasphemous, I know) for balancing the workloads of his relievers. It definitely makes the manager look good when most of the bullpen is pitching well. If the bullpen can continue to pitch effectively going forward, it bodes well for the team’s continued success, in the regular season, and deep into October (with Phil Hughes possibly included in October).
In minor league news, Manny Banuelos hit 97 in the 1st inning tonight (according to Frankie Piliere, who assured me that his gun is reliable), Jesus Montero has another opposite-field home run, and there are rumblings that Gary Sanchez might be headed to Staten Island. Exciting stuff.
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