With no more lefties on the market, the New York Yankees lost their last chance to fix a glaring issue with their biggest strength.
The New York Yankees bullpen is perhaps one of the best in the game.
Locked in the back-end is closer Aroldis Chapman, the man with the second-most saves in the majors since 2012, who’s set up by Dellin Betances, the man with the most strikeouts among major league relievers since 2014.
Handing the ball from the questionable rotation to their dependable hands is Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren and the rest of the squad that helped New York’s ‘pen rank 10th in ERA during the second half of 2016.
As terrific as that sounds, there is no lefty the Yankees can count on — outside of Chapman.
Tommy Layne has been stellar against left-handed hitters (.177 career BAA) and would likely reign atop the depth chart in terms of lefty specialists but after the former Red Sock, there’s not much else to turn to.
Richard Bleier was a 29-year-old rookie last season and has appeared in 241 minor league games over nine seasons compared to just 23 at the major league level. Chasen Shreve was once an encouraging go-to man, but hasn’t been healthy nor efficient since a stellar first half in 2015.
This was a problem that could have been addressed this offseason but after Boone Logan joined the defending American League champions and Jerry Blevins returned to the New York Mets, don’t anticipate another arm.
In early January, Brian Cashman was in contact with Logan, who yielded a .142/.222/.255 slash line to lefties in 2016, back in December but nothing came about.
ESNY broke down how Blevins was a solid option to pursue, as he was one of 23 pitchers in the National League to appear in over 70 games and was one of only five southpaws to do so. Blevins also surrendered just one home run to lefty hitters last season.
Now, just about a week and a half before pitchers and catchers report, the Yankees, despite suggesting an urgent demand to supplement the bullpen with another arm, only added a flamethrowing closer this offseason.
In fact, sights have been set on lowering payroll, after inking Chapman and Matt Holliday, in order to give the team an opportunity to get under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold for 2018.
Cashman didn’t shed any salary to make a move, and will enter the 2017 season with a nasty back-end tandem, an ordinary middle relief unit and lack of assurance from southpaws.