NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 11: Adonis Rosa #73 of the New York Yankees makes his Major League debut pitching against the Baltimore Orioles during their game at Yankee Stadium on August 11, 2019 in New York City.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

With spring training underway, the New York Yankees are likely to feature a few new names in their bullpen this season. 

Thomas Hall

Since rosters are expanding to 26 players in 2020, the New York Yankees will likely feature eight pitchers in their bullpen throughout this season.

With the departure of Dellin Betances, the Yankees are now tasked with filling two open spots within their bullpen this spring. Although, they currently have a lot of pitchers who’ll be capable of competing in the majors this season.

As of right now, Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder and Jonathan Loaisiga are likely considered as the front runners in the competition for those last two spots in the bullpen. But, players like Chad Bettis, Tyler Lyons, Michael King, Adonis Rosa and many more will also have an opportunity to break camp with the Yankees as well.

While manager Aaron Boone will likely wait until later this spring to announce who’ll be featured in his bullpen, there’s a chance for Rosa to set himself apart from everyone else over the next five weeks.

Despite being a non-roster invitee, the 25-year-old reliever has already received a lot of attention based on his spring training debut during Monday night’s game against the Pirates.

During New York’s 3-3 tie, Rosa entered the game with a one-run lead in the top of the eighth inning. The right-hander faced three batters and set them all down on strikes to conclude his half-inning of work, earning him his first hold of the spring.

While this was just one outing from Rosa, he was certainly impressive during his spring training debut. Not only did he set down all three hitters on strikes, but he also generated swinging strikeouts from each of them as well.

Following these results, the Dominican native has now inserted his name as a candidate in the competition for one of the two remaining spots in the Yankees’ bullpen. While he’s likely near the bottom of the depth chart among all of the pitchers named above, he’s still a very intriguing pitcher who’s capable of surprising a lot of people this spring.

If chosen for one of the final spots on the 26-man roster, Rosa has the potential to throw multiple innings from out of the bullpen, just as he did in 2019 when he made his major-league debut.

Last season, Rosa was recalled by the Yankees on Aug. 13 for their matchup against the Orioles. After Domingo German completed seven innings, the young hurler was called to the mound and threw for the final two innings of the game. Similar to his performance on Monday, Rosa induced a pair of swinging strikeouts during his debut last August.

During his first inning of work, Rosa needed just four pitches to create his first major-league strikeout. Then, he required just six pitches to set down the next two batters to finish the bottom of the eighth inning. Despite allowing a solo home run in the top of the ninth, the right-hander finished off the Orioles with his second strikeout of the game.

Shortly after his major-league debut, Rosa was returned to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the remainder of the 2019 campaign. During his 60.1 innings at triple-A last season, he produced a 3.88 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 5.13 xFIP, 1.31 WHIP, .266 OPP AVG, 19.7 percent strikeout rate, 5.4 percent walk rate along with a measly 11.1 percent HR/FB rate.

While Rosa’s traditional metrics weren’t spectacular, he barely allowed any home runs or walks during his time in triple-A last season. So, those two aspects could make him an attractive bullpen arm this spring.

Along with preventing home runs and walks, Rosa would likely be able to generate even more swings and misses if he was converted into a full-time reliever this season. Since his mid-80s changeup averaged the fewest amount of vertical movement (-6.0 inches) among all four of his pitches in 2019, he could just feature a fastball, slider and curveball this season.

As a result of becoming a relief pitcher, Rosa’s four-seamer would likely increase from its current average velocity of 90.3 mph. In addition, his mid-80s slider and high-70s curveball could each become lethal strikeout weapons for him, which would further increase his chances of reaching the majors in 2020.

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With the Yankees’ pitching rotation already plagued with injuries, they may decide to feature more than just one multi-inning pitcher in their bullpen coming out of spring training. So, that’s where Rosa could receive an opportunity for a lengthy tenure in the majors this season.

Since Rosa was DFA’d last September, he would need to be placed back onto the 40-man roster before he could return to the majors in 2020. With Luis Severino destined for the 60-day IL, the Yankees could fill his spot on the 40-man roster with Rosa.

Based on the massive number of injuries the Yankees sustained last season, it’ll be important for them to have reliable pitching depth in the minor leagues. So, even if Rosa doesn’t make the big-league team this spring, he’ll very likely receive a call-up to the majors at some point during the 2020 campaign.

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