The New York Yankees tried their hand at some new methods this season, and so far, they’ve paid off; but it won’t work long-term.
The first half of the season has been marred with injuries for the New York Yankees, and while they are slowly getting more guys back in the stacked lineup, they are losing perhaps where they need it most.
Gone are the days of spot starters, especially with Jonathan Loaisiga out of the picture. Instead, the Yankees took after the fad from the Tampa Bay Rays and began their own version of the opener.
With that, they found success. The Yankees are 6-0 when they use the opener. However successful they’ve been thus far, they can’t get used to it because this is not what this bullpen has been built to do. And right now, they are going to start tiring out some of their pitchers in making them sling extra innings.
Chad Green seems to have finally found his groove in the role as an opener and that is certainly a positive the Yankees can take out of this experiment.
Green has started all six games for the Yankees in the opener role and allowed just three runs. However, his last two performances are the most impressive, going two innings in each contest and striking out an impressive 12 batters during that span.
Nestor Cortes Jr. did well in his role after Green as well, tossing three scoreless innings against Cleveland and five strong to help sit down the Chicago White Sox and earn his first major league victory.
The rest of the bullpen is not suited for this. Even Cortes is still giving up runs in his multiple-inning efforts. He’s giving a high volume of innings but the quality is dipping as the season goes on.
While this method has been working while assisting the Yankees in getting batters to see multiple pitchers and not getting adjusted to the pitcher after seeing him three times in a row, it’s not reliable. The success has come now but once opponents get used to the method, they’ll be able to take advantage of the weary relievers who are being stretched a lot this early on.
Of course, if the Yankees had all five starters back, they would likely not use the opener method often. However, they could to get some of their starters an extra day of rest as the season draws on. But it seems like the Yankees would be more apt to try it out again with their recent success.
They can’t tire out the arms in their ‘pen if they want to truly compete in October. Although Chad Green and Nestor Cortes aren’t necessarily their biggest arms, they are still important for those middle relief appearances moving forward.
While the Yankees can’t predict what’s going to happen next, they can see that the opener is not a long-term answer. Enjoy that success while you can, Bombers; the chances of it working down the line are not so great.