NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 01: Nick Nelson #79 of the New York Yankees makes his MLB debut against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on August 01, 2020 in New York City.
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees’ bullpen is looking strong, and it’s not because of the best and brightest of the arms.

Josh Benjamin

The New York Yankees‘ bullpen is more dangerous than it has any business being right now.

Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Boston Red Sox pushed the Bronx Bombers to 6-1 on the season. Masahiro Tanaka made his season debut after suffering a concussion in summer camp and was limited to a strict pitch count. He exited after 2.2 innings and the bullpen did the rest.

And the crazy part is the Yankees did it all without using any of their best arms. In fact, they really couldn’t tonight. The hard-throwing and hilarious Tommy Kahnle is set to undergo Tommy John surgery. Additionally, fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman only just returned to the team after recovering from COVID-19. Zack Britton has handled the ninth inning in his absence, but he did not pitch Friday night despite it being a save situation.

Rather, the New York Yankees relied on the following arms: Luis Avilán, rookie Nick Nelson, and David Hale. The trio combined for 6.1 innings of shutout ball and accounted for nine of Boston’s 12 strikeouts. Avilán took over in the third and struck out Mitch Moreland to end the inning before tossing a scoreless fourth.

Nelson, the Yankees’ fourth-round pick in 2016, then debuted and immediately impressed. He struck out Tzu-Wei Lin on three fastballs, touching 97 mph. Nelson also showcased a changeup, curveball, and slider, striking out four in three innings.

Hale then came on for a six-out save and worked out of trouble in the ninth. Representing the tying run at home plate, Andrew Benintendi struck out swinging to end the game.

What it all means

Think about this for a second, folks. Not only are the New York Yankees 6-1 to start the abbreviated season, but they have won most of their games without their top relievers. Kahnle pitched in one game before needing Tommy John. Chapman has yet to play at all as he was recovering from coronavirus. Britton, though perfect in both of his save opportunities this year, has still had to warm up several times this week.

As a result, manager Aaron Boone decided his veteran southpaw “needed a day.”

This puts the Yankees in a very strong position. It doesn’t matter that the Red Sox are a far cry from the team that won the World Series two years ago. If Boone feels confident going to guys in the middle and late innings who would otherwise only see mop-up duty, then this New York Yankees squad is truly special.

Think about it. The game is close, but Britton has warmed up a lot one week without actually pitching. Chapman can technically go but threw more than a handful of pitches the night before. Chad Green can fill in, but better to save his arm for when he needs to pitch multiple innings.

Depth, depth, and more depth, folks. The Yankees have it for days, especially in a bullpen whose ERA currently stands at 2.70. If this is the new normal, this writer certainly isn’t complaining.

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