With little chance the New York Yankees make a move involving the rotation, Brian Cashman must shorten the game even more.Yes, we know. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has announced that the organization’s roster will likely go unchanged from now until Spring Training.
That doesn’t mean it should, however.
With little options to bolster a rotation that contains little to no stability and an unpromising projection from the offense, New York needs to bolster their strong suit — the bullpen.
Last year’s rotation averaged 5.6 innings per start and as the unit perhaps looks worse than it did in 2016, the top-heavy Yankees’ ‘pen needs to carry much of the burden.
Yes, I’ve advocated that New York’s bullpen may be better than it was with Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman together, upon further review, the ‘pen may need some help.
Last season, Adam Warren (3.26), Tyler Clippard (2.49 ERA), Tommy Layne (3.38), Luis Severino (0.39 ERA) and Richard Bleier (0.00 ERA) led the way through the second half, combining for a 2.76 ERA while surrendering just 11 home runs in 117.2 innings.
A far cry from the first half which the likes of Kirby Yates (5.72 ERA), Chasen Shreve (4.64 ERA), Nick Goody (4.91 ERA) Johnny Barbato (5.54 ERA) and Anthony Swarzak (5.68 ERA) combined for a 5.28 ERA while surrendering 21 home runs in 97.1 innings of work resulting in just 39 holds.
So, there is some improvement in that area, but enough to supplement the biggest question mark on the team? Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections by FanGraphs tells us that shouldn’t be assumed.
As of right now, ZiPS is calling for Warren (4.24 ERA), Clippard (3.67 ERA), Layne (3.88 ERA) and Bleier (4.91 ERA) to struggle mightily while Clippard leads the unit with a distasteful 0.5 WAR.
Guys not included on this list aren’t to be depended on either.
Shreve dominated in the first half of 2015 with his .179 opponent’s batting average but since then the lefty has maintained a 5.05 ERA proving that, perhaps, his first year in New York was a delusion.
Layne has always been stellar against left-handed hitters (.177 career BAA) but Bleier is a 29-year old who has played in 241 minor league games over nine seasons and just 23 at the major league level.
His 5.1 K/9 rate and 3.97 projection for next season should be double alarming.
Sure, he didn’t allow a single home run and just six hits to lefty batters in the show, but he’s not a guy you want to depend on to fill the void of a rotation nor feel comfortable calling on to strikeout a big lefty with two outs and the bases loaded.
With that, the Yankees should at least consider a move to bolster this unit. Because in the end, after seeing the lack of success even with “No-Runs DMC” a year ago and the unstable rotation right now, middle relievers have the most prominent role for the 2017 Yankees.
New York has been linked to several names still available out on the market. One is former Yankee, Boone Logan.
The southpaw maintained a .166/.265/.313 opponent’s slash line and sustained a 3.69 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 57 strikeouts compared to 20 walks ratio in 46.1 innings of work with the Rockies in 2016.
Another name linked to the Bombers this offseason was Jerry Blevins — a former member of the New York Mets.
Blevins was one of just 23 pitchers in the National League to appear in over 70 games a year ago and was one of only five southpaws to do so.
In addition to his durability, he led that list of lefties in ERA (2.79), home runs allowed (four), walks allowed (15) and was second in opponent’s OPS (.627) and slugging percentage (.331).
They have certainly been associated with other names on the rumor mill (such as Greg Holland), but depending on the price, Cashman needs to reconsider his 99 percent set comment and address a unit that isn’t quite ready to handle the workload handed to them by a questionable rotation.
Sure, it’s neat and very pleasing to know Betances and Chapman are waiting for you in the eighth and ninth. But if 2016 proved anything, it’s that they have zero effect on the win column unless they are consistently delivered a lead on a silver platter.