Archive for Death by Bullpen
Deep and reliable bullpens have been a staple of the Joe Girardi era, as the Yankees started to shy away from multi-year contracts for free agent relievers and instead focused on building flexibility from within and off the scrap heap. Oh sure, there still is the occasional Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano, but signings like that are no longer the norm. Unfortunately, an effective middle relief unit ahead of Soriano and David Robertson is no longer the norm these days either.
Joe Girardi had to run through five different relievers after Freddy Garcia was unable to complete five innings last night, and those five combined to allow four runs and eight baserunners in 3.2 innings. It was the second time in the last five games that the bullpen turned a winnable game into a multi-run loss, and during the month of the August the relief corps has pitched to a 4.28 ERA (3.53 FIP) in 48.1 innings. It’s a 3.92 ERA (3.59 FIP) in 181.1 innings since the start of June, a not small sample. I honestly don’t want to figure out what those numbers would be without Soriano, hands down the club’s best reliever this year.
The bullpen problems all started with Mariano Rivera‘s injury in May and were compounded when Cory Wade completely imploded a few weeks later. It was obvious the Yankees needed a quality bullpen arm — not Chad Qualls, not Derek Lowe, someone they could actually use in high-leverage spots — when Robertson hit the DL along with Mo in May, but the club decided to hang tight for a while to see what developed internally. A lot of faith was placed in Joba Chamberlain coming off his two injuries and he hasn’t rewarded that faith one bit since returning a few weeks ago. I’ve been saying it for months, they couldn’t count on him until they actually saw what he looked like against big league hitters. Those were two very serious injuries.
Anyway, the the decision to avoid the reliever trade market has left the Yankees with two excellent late-game arms and a handful of misfit toy middle relievers. Boone Logan leads the league in games pitched and looks more and more gassed with each appearance, and lefty counterpart Clay Rapada is a specialist in the truest sense of the term. Cody Eppley is a right-handed specialist and in case you haven’t noticed, he’s been pretty bad for close to eight weeks now — nine runs and 29 baserunners in his last 21 appearances (16.1 innings). That’s not the kind of middle relief help the Yankees have employed in recent years, not even close.
Of course, the real problem here is that we’re beyond the point of no return. Swinging a trade this late in the season for a quality arm is damn near impossible, especially since the Yankees have the best record in the league and thus the lowest waiver priority. Anytime a decent reliever hits the waiver wire, count on the Orioles and/or Rays blocking him. I’ll be the first time to admit that trading for relief help can be sketchy, but sometimes it’s just flat out unavoidable. You have to take risks to contend and trading for relievers when you need bullpen help qualifies as a risk in my book.
The Triple-A bullpen is mostly barren, thanks in part due to injuries as well as a late-Spring Training trade that sent the club’s best MLB-ready relief arm out west in exchange for a no-hit, meh-defense backup catcher. Wade has been okay since being demoted, nothing that would make you think his command issues have been corrected. Chase Whitley has legit big league potential, but he might not be ready yet. Justin Thomas, Ryota Igarashi, Manny Delcarmen … guys like that are cannon fodder, not viable middle relief aid. We’re all excited about Mark Montgomery, but the fact that we’re even talking about a kid with 17 career innings above Single-A as potential bullpen help is a sign of how little depth the Yankees have at the moment.
The good news is that help is on the way, at least in theory. CC Sabathia is expected to come off the DL on Friday, pushing David Phelps and his multi-inning ability back into the bullpen where he can soak up some of those middle innings. He would have been perfect for a game like last night’s. Andy Pettitte‘s return is still weeks away, but if he makes it back it could mean another relief arm in the form of Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, or Ivan Nova. Feliciano is pitching in rehab games and David Aardsma is throwing bullpen sessions, but again counting on guys coming off major injuries is even riskier than trading for relievers. This group represents their only options at the moment, however.
“We know (struggles are) part of the game,” said Logan after last night’s game. “That’s the way it works. We’re still a good bullpen. It’s funny how when someone struggles, we all struggle. It seems like we all struggle at the same time. Once we all start getting on a roll, we’ll all get on a roll, and get back to where we need to be.”
The Yankees have a very obvious weakness in their middle relief right now, moreso than at any point in the last three or four years. They have run into some bad injury luck, no doubt about it, but also made their own bed with the trade deadline inactivity and general over-reliance on Joba. Pretty much the only way to improve things right now is to hope the guys currently in the bullpen rediscover their previous forms, particularly Logan and Eppley. Getting Sabathia back and getting more length out of the starters in general will help limit the exposure of the middle relievers, but they can’t be avoided forever.
The Yankees put an end to the four-game losing streak with an offensive outburst yesterday, on the heels of going 13-13 in July despite a +18 run differential. Lots of close losses — seven one-run losses, three two-run losses in July — will throw a wrench into the ol’ pythag record. Bullpens play a major role in close games, and the Yankees lost a number of those one-run games because their usually reliable relief corps came up short. Just look at the Red Sox series, both Rafael Soriano and David Robertson took losses in that one.
The injury to Mariano Rivera was obviously significant, but Soriano has stepped in and done a marvelous job as his ninth inning replacement. The problem is that the middle relief weakens because he’s no longer throwing the seventh inning. Cory Wade‘s implosion left those key middle innings in the hands of a number of specialists, namely Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, and Boone Logan. Those guys did a fine job for a while, but all of these close games have started to expose their weaknesses against batters of the opposite hand. Here’s a look at the bullpen’s month-by-month stats…
That’s a 3.68 ERA since the start of May — Mo’s last appearance was April 30th — so exactly league average as far as I’m concerned. That’s good, rock solid, but a notch below what the Yankees have gotten from their relievers in recent years. The bullpen pitched to a 3.29 ERA from 2010-2011 and a 3.59 ERA from 2008-2011, otherwise known as the four full seasons of the Joe Girardi era. This isn’t a fatal flaw kind of performance, but these guys haven’t been quite as automatic as we’ve grown accustomed too of late.
Joba Chamberlain officially returned to the bullpen two days ago, adding the kind of non-matchup reliever that I felt was an essential addition over the last few weeks. He showed his rust yesterday and therein lies the problem — we really have no idea what Joba will give the team going forward. It could be two months of utter dominance, it could be two months of replacement level production, it could be two months of something in the middle. Those were two very serious injuries — Tommy John guys tend to struggle with command during the first six or eight months after surgery anyway — and we shouldn’t downplay their potential impact. It’s going to take a few weeks before we get an accurate measure of his effectiveness.
The Yankees have been getting plenty of length out of their starters recently, with just eighth starts of fewer than six innings in the last 27 games. That dates back to the Adam Warren disaster. Only once during that stretch did a starter fail to complete at least five innings, and that was the David Phelps spot start in St. Pete (4.2 IP). The best way to improve the performance of the bullpen is to get even more length out of the starters so the specialists aren’t exposed. The offense blowing a few games open like yesterday wouldn’t hurt either. Girardi has done a really good job of mixing and matching with his middle guys, but the more relievers you use in a game, the more likely you are to run into someone having an off-night. That’s why all the specialists and matchup work can be dangerous.
The Yankees enjoy a much needed — for the bullpen, anyway — day off today before heading to Boston for a four-game set this weekend. They’ll play one tomorrow, two on Saturday, one on Sunday, then will have four days off for the All-Star break. Everyone will get to recharge the (physical and mental) batteries before getting into the dog days of summer and the stretch drive. The break gives everyone a rest and just as importantly, it gives the Yankees a chance to manipulate and optimize their roster in the short-term.
It seemed like a curious move at the time but the picture became clear once we had a second to sit back and think about it. The Yankees claimed outfielder Darnell McDonald off waivers from the Red Sox yesterday, adding a right-handed bat known for hitting lefties (career .345 wOBA vs. LHP) and capable of playing all three outfield spots. He’ll be in uniform at Fenway Park tomorrow.
The move wasn’t made to replace Dewayne Wise or Andruw Jones, the move was made to add McDonald to them. Although the team has not confirmed their plans, they’re almost certainly going to option David Phelps to the minors and roll with a five-man bench over the weekend. Phelps started yesterday and wasn’t scheduled to pitch this weekend, so the Yankees won’t miss him. With Boston scheduled to thrown three southpaws — Franklin Morales, Felix Doubront, and Jon Lester — in the four games this weekend, expect to see McDonald in left and Jones at DH with both Wise and Raul Ibanez available off the bench.
Once Phelps goes down he is ineligible to return for ten days, but that won’t be an issue since Sabathia is expected to come off the DL right after the break. The big left-hander played catch yesterday and will throw his first bullpen session since hitting the DL tomorrow, and so far all indications are that he’s a go once his 15 days up. Phelps will be able to continue to work as a starter in Triple-A, accumulating innings and threatening to take Freddy Garcia‘s roster spot.
The Yankees can push Sabathia back to the fifth game after the All-Star break, which is Tuesday the 17th. They play three games against the Angels and will likely see C.J. Wilson at some point, so McDonald should be useful for at least one game that series. They’ll then play the Blue Jays, who have three lefties — Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and Aaron Laffey — in their rotation. Odds are in favor of them seeing one of those guys in the series opener, which McDonald could start before being released to clear a roster spot for Sabathia in the second game, getting the Yankees back to a 12-man pitching staff and four-man bench.
The 26th Man
Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees (and Red Sox) will be allowed to carry a 26th man for both games on Saturday. It has to be the same player for both games and he must be sent back to the minors the next day. George King says the Yankees will bring back Cory Wade for the day, giving them seven available relievers on Saturday. Wade threw a perfect inning on nine pitches in his first Triple-A outing yesterday as he tries to get his location back to where it needs to be.
The Yankees will still have the option of swapping out a regular 25-man reliever between games if they want. Say Cody Eppley ends up throwing 30 pitches in the first game, they could then send him down before the second game for someone like Justin Thomas — who was going to be recalled prior to the Chad Qualls trade — for the nightcap. The third lefty reliever could come in hand against the Sox, but it also may be overkill. It is an option though, and I figure they’ll at least have an extra Triple-A arm waiting at the hotel in case they need to make a between-games move.
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These four games in three days against the Red Sox are happening in isolation, at least as much as any early-July series could happen in isolation. Both teams are off today and the All-Star break follows next week, so both clubs will be rested with the opportunity to manipulate their roster. It’s almost like a little playoff series, but between a first place team and a last place team. The Yankees added a right-handed bat to combat Boston’s three lefties and won’t have to worry about the pitching staff being short-handed this weekend, which is pretty sweet. There would also be something deliciously ironic about McDonald getting a big hit or two this weekend after Boston him cast him aside.
The Yankees went into last night’s game against the Rays with a team 112 wRC+, tied with the Cardinals for the second best in baseball behind the Rangers (113). Their 373 runs scored were only the sixth-most in baseball though, thanks in large part to their struggles with men in scoring position. That has started to correct itself a bit — they hit .304/.370/.609 with RISP during the recent homestand and went 3-for-9 last night — but there’s still quite a bit of work to be done in that department.
As a result, the Yankees have played an awful lot of close games in recent weeks. During their 20-7 rampage through the month of June, they won just eight games by more than three runs and only five by more than four runs. Five of their last seven wins have been decided by two runs or less. The Yankees average 4.76 runs per game and they don’t seem to deviate from that too much, especially of late. Only thrice this season have they scored double-digit runs and only ten times have they scored eight or more. That’s about once every ten days.
All of these close games have forced Joe Girardi to use his bullpen a bit more heavily than I’m sure he would like. Boone Logan has already appeared in 40 games this season and is on pace for 82 appearances, which would easily be the largest workload by a reliever during the Joe Girardi era*. Both Rafael Soriano and Cory Wade (before he was sent down) were on pace for 69 appearances prior to last night, and Clay Rapada is on pace for 76 appearances as well. That last one isn’t a huge concern though, Rapada has thrown more than ten pitches in an outing just 17 (!) times this year. Even the recently acquired Chad Qualls is on pace for about 68 appearances this year thanks to his time with the Phillies.
The Yankees have been playing very well for several weeks now and that’s wonderful, but they’ve also been playing an abnormally high number of close games — I’m talking games decided by two or three runs, stuff like that — as well. The team’s core relievers are starting to see their workloads climb — check out the Bullpen Workload page, it’s not just appearances, it’s also all the times these guys warm up and don’t get into the game — and that can be a problem. Hopefully the offense can start breaking some games open in the middle innings and Girardi’s primary relievers can get some extra rest down the stretch in the second half, because the pace these guys are on right now will put them in the danger zone as far as late-season burnout goes.
* The “record” currently belongs to 2010 Joba Chamberlain, who appeared in 73 games. 2009 Phil Coke (72) and 2011 David Robertson (70) are the only other relievers to appear in at least 70 games during Girardi’s four full seasons at the helm.
The injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have hurt the Yankees in more ways than one. Obviously the biggest loss is in the rotation, where both guys where providing the team with lots of high quality innings every five days. As we saw with Adam Warren, plucking a kid out of Triple-A and inserting him into the rotation is much more effective in theory than in practice. It’ll be impossible for David Phelps and Freddy Garcia to replace what Sabathia and Pettitte the team on the field, so the Yankees are just going to have to hope they can tread water for the time being.
The losses of CC and Andy go beyond the rotation, however. Garcia’s move to the rotation also weakens the bullpen despite what will surely be D.J. Mitchell‘s best efforts. Cory Wade‘s crash back the Earth and the still weird acquisition of Chad Qualls further weaken the middle relief corps. Both Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley have been effective matchup guys, but asking them to face batters of the opposite hand on a regular basis is a recipe for trouble. There’s no way around it, the team’s biggest weakness right now are those innings between the starter and the Boone Logan/David Robertson setup duo.
To make matters worse, Garcia is not stretched out — he’s probably scheduled for something like 60-70 pitches tonight — and Phelps is expected to throw only 80 pitches when he makes his return to the rotation on Wednesday. Not only is the middle relief a sore spot, but the Yankees will send two starters to the mound against the Rays this week who will be unable to pitch deep into the game. The Mitchells and Wades and Quallses will be ripe for exposure. That also puts some pressure on Ivan Nova to give the team some distance on Tuesday. After years of beating up on the middle relievers of other teams, the Yankees might get a taste of their own medicine against Tampa.
The good news is that this is just temporary. Sabathia figures to be back shortly after the All-Star break and both Garcia and Phelps will get stretched out before long. Middle relief is relatively easy to fix, at least in the sense those guys are easy to replace if they stink. The Yankees aren’t committed to any of them long-term, so if Qualls stinks they can cut him and try someone else. If Wade doesn’t right the ship they can send him on his way. Joe Girardi & Co. have been building and rebuilding bullpens on the fly for five years now, no reason they can’t do it again. For the next three days though, we’re all going to have to hold our breath whenever that bullpen door swings open prior to the seventh inning.
The Yankees were one inning away from shutting out the Indians last night, but Cory Wade let things get out of hand in the ninth and surrendered four runs in his latest dud outing in a month full of them. The 29-year-old right-hander has now allowed nine runs in his last 6.2 innings, spanning ten appearances. He’s walked four, struck out three, and given up three homers during that time. It’s been an ugly stretch, no doubt about it.
Wade has been betrayed primarily by his changeup during this rough patch, the pitch that is usually his go-to weapon. Two of the three homers he’s allowed came on nearly identical mistake changeups, pitches that were supposed to be down and away to right-handed batters — Miguel Cabrera and Jose Lopez — but leaked inside and belt high. That’s a batting practice fastball. The other homer (by Ian Desmond) was an inside fastball that just caught too much of the plate.
“Couple of balls over the middle and they hit them well … kind of sucks,” said catcher Chris Stewart after last night’s game. “His velocity is the same,” added Joe Girardi. “If I saw a real drop in velocity, I’d be concerned. I just think he’s struggling right now.”
Wade isn’t a guy that’s going to blow hitters away with the fastball anyway, but here’s his day-by-day fastball velocity plot if you’re interested. As Girardi said, there’s no drop. Wade did work quite a bit when David Robertson was on the shelf last month, at one point pitching eight times in 16 days. That includes three days in a row and four times in five days to end that 16-day stretch, which coincides exactly with the start of this rough patch. Remember, this is a guy that is two years removed from major shoulder surgery, so maybe he’s just worn out a bit and his all-important command is suffering. Who knows? It’s just a theory.
It’s very easy to write a guy like Wade off because he doesn’t fit the profile. We all like to see some hard-throwers march out of the bullpen and throw gas by hitters, but Cory is a pure finesse guy who mixes his pitches and changes arm slots to keep the batters off balance. It’s unorthodox so we’re skeptical. It worked brilliantly last season and for the first eight or ten weeks of this season, but the last month or so has been rough. Perhaps the other shoe has dropped, perhaps it’s just a slump. I would greatly prefer the latter.
With David Aardsma about three weeks away, Wade still has some time to sort himself out before his roster spot is really in danger. He obviously shouldn’t see any important late-inning situations anytime soon, but he should be given time to work through this. I do believe he has a minor league option left so it’s not like they would release him anyway, plus the current alternatives are Ryota Igarashi, Justin Thomas, and I suppose the recently claimed Danny Farquhar. No thanks. Wade’s awful recent performance could be just a bump in the road or it could be an indication that the end is near, but the Yankees can afford to be patient and give him some time to right the ship — in a reduced role, of course — before making a change.
An expensive — and injured — luxury at this time last season, Rafael Soriano has become an indispensable part of the Yankees’ bullpen with Mariano Rivera out for the season and David Robertson shelved for a month. He’s pitched to a 0.73 ERA (1.91 FIP) with ten strikeouts and just two walks in 14 appearances since mid-May, and he’s kept the closer’s job despite Robertson’s return from the DL. That’s due to his 12-for-13 effort in save chances.
The return to the ninth inning already has some wondering about Soriano’s future with the team beyond this season, specifically his ability to opt-out of the final year and $14M left on his contract. This morning Joel Sherman wrapped up the situation succinctly…
Some teams in need of closers will appreciate (his performance), indeed, it continues. Soriano might not get $14 million a year, but what if he, say, were offered three years at $30 million? It would probably be in his best interest to jump at that, especially if it looks as if Rivera would return in 2013. Because, in that scenario, Soriano would almost certainly go back to being a set-up man in his walk year and run the risk of not being as enticing to the rest of the sport.
Soriano is a Scott Boras client and Boras isn’t stupid, he’ll gauge the closer market before pulling the trigger on the opt-out clause. The upcoming free agent market for late-game relievers is quite weak, with Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Jose Valverde, and an injured Ryan Madson highlighting the crop. Soriano is the best healthy pitcher of the bunch and teams will pay for saves, just look at Heath Bell last winter.
Losing Soriano to the opt-out after the season would hurt the bullpen but also probably represents a net gain. Not only could the Yankees find a replacement setup man with that $14M, but they should have enough left over to help fill the right field and/or catching holes. Since the opt-out indicates a search for a larger payday, the Yankees could also make Soriano a qualifying offer — one year at approximately $12.5M — and be eligible for draft pick compensation should he sign elsewhere. Again, his performance won’t be easy to replace, but it’s not impossible.
We’re still months away from the opt-out becoming an issue, and Soriano’s performance (and health) over these next few weeks are going to play a major role in his decision to stick it out for another season — as Mariano’s setup man — or leave for greener pastures. I’ve been saying since Day One that he wouldn’t opt-out, then again I also didn’t expect him to fill-in for Rivera for what amounts to 75-80% of the season.
The Yankees are expected to get David Robertson back for Friday’s series-opener in Washington, making tonight the last time Joe Girardi will have to use his mix-and-match bullpen tactics in the late innings. The one thing Girardi does better than anything else is manage his bullpen and put his relievers in a position to succeed, and year after year they continue to perform. Clay Rapada had no business throwing a scoreless eighth inning against one of the best offenses in baseball with a two-run lead while appearing in his fourth consecutive game last night, yet he did it anyway.
Rafael Soriano has stepped up and performed well as the closer while Robertson and Mariano Rivera were on the shelf, and while that is certainly appreciated, I think it’s the four-man setup crew that deserves the most applause. Boone Logan and Cory Wade started the season as sixth inning matchup guys and became a powerhouse setup duo, striking out 28 of 82 batters (34.1%) while walking just three unintentionally (none by Logan) during Robertson’s absence. Wade did allow back-breaking homers to Mark Trumbo (walk-off) and Miguel Cabrera (game-tying) during this stretch, but otherwise these two shut things down in the late-innings of close games.
Rapada and Eppley have been true specialists, almost never facing batters of the opposite hand. Seven out of every ten batters Rapada faced while Robertson was down were lefties, and he held them to two hits and four walks in 25 plate appearances. The free passes are a bit of an eyesore, though two of the four came in his first two appearances after Robertson’s injury, plus I don’t consider walking Nick Johnson to be a cardinal sin. Johnson tends to do that. Eppley has generated plenty of ground balls against right-handers in his matchup role, getting 11 grounders out of the 19 righties who put the ball in play off him.
Of course, one of the primary reasons this makeshift setup crew has pitched so well during Robertson’s absence has been the starters, who have consistently pitched deep into the game and are keeping the relievers from being overworked. In the 28 games without Robertson, the starter has gone at least six innings 22 times — including 18 times in the last 19 games — and at least seven innings 16 times. The Yankees haven’t had a starter complete fewer than five innings since David Phelps was making spot starts between Freddy Garcia and Andy Pettitte. You can’t say enough about how much strong starting pitching helps the bullpen.
Assuming nothing unfortunate happens between now and Friday, the Yankees are going to turn a very good bullpen back into a great one thanks to Robertson’s return. He’ll help lighten the load on Wade and Logan specifically, but also Soriano as well. The starters are on a collective roll and are pitching deep into the game, which has helped soften the blow while Robertson has been on the mend. Getting him back this weekend won’t solve the RISPFAIL, but it’s going to be a huge addition to a pitching staff that has stepped up and carried the team during this three-week stretch of winning.
The Yankees have received some pretty stellar pitching over the last three weeks or so, and it’s about to get a whole lot better. David Robertson aced his second minor league rehab appearances yesterday afternoon, and afterward Joe Girardi confirmed that his top setup man will rejoin the team today and be activated off the DL on Friday. Cory Wade and Boone Logan have done a superb job setting up Rafael Soriano in recent weeks, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve all missed Robertson in the late innings.
Getting Robertson back on the roster won’t be a problem but the Yankees do have some roster flexibility and a number of different options. We know Wade, Logan, and Rafael Soriano aren’t going anywhere, but there’s a case to be made that everyone else in the bullpen should be replaced. Each has their own pros and cons, of course.
Sending Eppley back to Triple-A seems like the most obvious move since he’s been the designated up-and-down guy early this season. He hasn’t pitched great but he hasn’t been ineffective either — 3.55 ERA with a 4.55 FIP and a 67.5% ground ball rate — and lately Joe Girardi has been using him as a right-handed/ground ball specialist in the sixth and seventh innings. That’s the best way to use the sidewinder, though a ROOGY isn’t exactly the most efficient use of roster space. The Yankees could send Eppley down on Friday and call him up at a later point without a problem.
Do you know how long it’s been since Phelps has appeared in a game? Eleven days now. He hasn’t pitched since game two of the Tigers series in Detroit, when he started the bottom of the ninth inning in the eventual walk-off loss. Phelps has made two appearances totaling five outs in the last 20 days, and his brief warm-up session last night was the first time he’s even done that much since the Tigers’ game. The Yankees don’t need to carry two long-men and although Phelps has done nothing to lose his job — 2.94 ERA and 4.50 FIP — they could opt to send him to Triple-A to make sure he gets regulars innings as a starting pitcher. Winning is always the number one goal, but the Yankees could send him down to focus on his development without weakening the big league club.
Since being banished to the bullpen, Sweaty Freddy has worked sparingly in mop-up duty. He missed a few days following the death of his grandfather but has otherwise appeared in just six of the club’s last 41 games, and only once in those six games was the score separated by fewer than three runs. It’s been pure mop-up work and is totally redundant with Phelps on the roster. Freddy has no trade value so the Yankees would have to just cut ties with him, a legitimate option but probably not the smartest thing in the world. Pitching depth has a way of disappearing quickly and Garcia can do a lot of different things if needed, particularly start.
Cutting Rapada was unlikely even before his recent stretch of solid pitching (despite a heavy workload). The Yankees obviously place some value on having two left-handers out in the bullpen given how much money they’ve spent on those guys in recent years, and for the most part Rapada has done the job. He is out of minor league options, so the Yankees wouldn’t be able to send him to the minors without first passing him through waivers. Rapada ain’t clearing waivers, I can promise you that.
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The Yankees have enough bullpen depth that there’s no obvious candidate to go once Robertson is healthy. They’re going to shed one solid bullpen arm in favor of an elite reliever, and that’s pretty awesome. Since we polled you folks about replacing Brett Gardner internally yesterday, we might as well do the same for getting Robertson back on the roster.
Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees intend to keep Rafael Soriano in the closer role even after David Robertson returns from his oblique strain in (hopefully) two weeks. I’m a fan of the move, I’ve wanted Soriano to close ever since Mariano Rivera got hurt. It frees up Robertson to be used a little more liberally in the seventh and eighth rather than be married to one specific inning late in the game. Soriano will make you sweat a bit but that’s unavoidable, he’s done the job these last few weeks and actually looks comfortable for the first time in pinstripes.