Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Yankees bullpen brings back a lot of familiar faces in 2020 including a game-changer who always dominates. 

The New York Yankees have had one of the best bullpens in baseball over the past few years. General manager Brian Cashman has made it a priority to shorten the game as much as he can. Now, with a great starting rotation paired with the elite bullpen, it should thrive in 2020.

Here are my predictions for the bullpen in 2020:

Jordan Montgomery

Jordan Montgomery could be pitching out of the bullpen to start the year, but that doesn’t mean he will be staying there. As already mentioned, the Yankees have plenty of depth behind J.A. Happ.

Montgomery is the first option to replace him.

Monty had a solid rookie campaign in 2017 and is going to look to build on that moving forward. He will be the Yankees’ main long relief weapon. Look for Monty to finish near a 3.95 FIP, 21% K%, 8.3 BB%, and 3.1 fWAR/200. 

Luis Cessa

Luis Cessa earned his role in the bullpen this past season. After years of struggling as a starter, the Yankees shifted him to the bullpen where he thrived.

His slider became his best and most used pitch. Cessa’s slider had a 40.7% whiff rate on it and was able to limit hard contact with it. If he wants to improve, he will need to make strides with his fastball and other secondary pitches.

Moving into the next year, Cessa will post 4.25 FIP, 20% K%, 7% BB%, and 1 fWAR/60. 

Jonathan Holder

Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, Mike King and Jonathan Loaisiga are all options for a potential long-relief role. All have options remaining, but Holder seems the most likely to get the position.

Holder has posted a sub 4 SIERA in every season he has appeared in, but he was fairly unlucky in 2019, and tried to make adjustments throughout the season. He can still be a valuable reliever and one of the better weapons for Aaron Boone.

Holder will produce a 3.55 FIP, 21% K%, 6% BB%, and a 1.2 fWAR/60. 

Adam Ottavino

Adam Ottavino came to the Yankees in free agency and saw a sub-2 ERA season during his first year in pinstripes. He was very lucky throughout the season and his luck ran out during the postseason.

Otto had a 31% K rate, but he walked 14% of hitters in 2019 as well. That needs to change moving forward if the reliever wants to see sustainable results.

I expect a similar K%, but a little better walk rate, as Ottavino produces a 3.68 FIP, 32% K%, 12.2% BB%, and 1.0 fWAR/60. 

Zack Britton

Zack Britton was a big part of the Yankees’ success in 2019, but he will likely not keep up a sub 2 era in 2020. Britton and Ottavino face similar issues, they walk too many hitters.

The Yankees left-handed reliever had a concerning 4.82 pCRA in 2019. Britton is redeemed by his incredible ability to get a groundball. Pitchers who rely on heavy ground ball rates with suspect defense aren’t going to project well moving forward.

Britton will have a 3.55 FIP, 22% K%, 12.4% BB%, and 1.1 fWAR/60. 

Tommy Kahnle

Tommy Kahnle looked more like his 2017 self this past season. The Yankees right-handed reliever had a 2.79 SIERA and a 70 pCRA-. Kahnle had the best season out of all Yankee relievers in 2019. He led the Yankee relievers in SIERA, xFIP, and pCRA.

Kahnle was the Yankees’ biggest weapon in crucial moments. If the Yankees were in a jam, they went to him and he delivered all year long.

I expect a dominant 2020 for Kahnle with a 2.85 FIP, 37% K%, 7% BB %, and a 2.0 fWAR/60. 

Gerrit Cole, Cole Train T-Shirt

Chad Green

Chad Green is one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. After what seemed to be the end of the world for Green, he rebounded from a tough April to absolutely dominate the rest of the way.

After he was recalled, he struck out 90 hitters in 60+ innings. While pitching to a sub 3 ERA. Green’s 36% K rate would have been near that of Chapman’s in 2019. Green can provide multiple innings, which improve his value and makes him one of the best in the game.

Green should return to form in 2020 with a 2.65 FIP, 36% K%, 6% BB%, and 2.3 fWAR/60. 

Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman agreed to an extension with the Yankees early in the offseason. Chapman has been everything the Yankees paid for since he came to New York. He’s been one of the most dominant closers in baseball history.

Chapman has over half of the career fWAR as Mariano Rivera but has done so in fewer innings. His fastball velocity is starting to leave him though. His slider has become a lethal pitch, but his command will need to be better as he ages.

For 2020, he should still be a dominant force with a 2.90 FIP, 37% K%, 10.3 BB% and a 2.5 fWAR/60. 

The Yankees bullpen is one of the best in baseball. A back-end core that would rival any in all of baseball. With solid depth in the minors below, the Yankees bullpen will dominate again in 2020. 

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