Yankees Bullpen Among MLB’s Best
When the Steinbrenners went against Brian Cashman’s wishes to sign Rafael Soriano they envisioned a lockdown bullpen that would be among the best in MLB. They got what they were looking for, although probably not the way they envisioned it. Soriano struggled early and got hurt. Joba Chamberlain had to have Tommy John surgery. David Robertson became a savior and was one of the best setup men in MLB. Once Soriano came back he pitched well. Along with Robertson and Mariano Rivera the trio formed one of best 7-8-9 combo’s in baseball.
Having a lockdown bullpen is crucial in baseball. It is devastating for a team to waste a good starting pitching performance or a good offensive performance because the bullpen blew it. The bullpen can also bail out a bad start from a pitcher to allow the offense to comeback. The 2011 Yankees bullpen finished 4th in MLB in bullpen ERA at 3.12. They only blew 16 saves, which was good for 5th best in MLB, and 8.46 K/9 which was good for 6th best in MLB. Once Soriano and Chamberlain went down all the pressure went to David Robertson. If he hadn’t stepped up his game, the Yankees season could have gone with him. He responded in a way nobody could have ever dreamed off. Robertson went 4-0, with a 1.08 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and an unprecedented 13.5 K/9. Robertson did allow to many walks (2.86 BB/9), but he always seemed to get strikeouts to cancel them out. With the help of a deceptively fast fastball and a devastating 12-6 curve, Robertson always came through in the clutch.
Mariano Rivera continued to defy the odds to be almost as dominant as in his prime. Rivera had 44 saves, pitched to a 1.91 ERA, and an impeccable .897 WHIP. He displayed his amazing control by only walking 8 batters all season. He did have his usual stretch of the season, last year in August, when people questioned whether he was done based off a few blown saves in a row. Of course the answer was as it has always been. No he is not done. There are still not many closers, if any, you would rather want on the mound for a big save other than Mo.
Cory Wade, Hector Noesi, Boone Logan and Luis Ayala also made nice contributions to the bullpen last season. These guys fulfilled many different roles and were versatile enough to perform. When Wade was going well he was even the 7th inning guy. Noesi performed great as a long man and middle innings guy. Logan was the Yankees only lefty reliever but was also capable of getting righties out due to his plus fastball and slider. Ayala got off to a good start, but struggled down the stretch. These guys provided great depth behind the Yankees great back end of the bullpen pitchers.
Going into this year I see the Yankees having the 2nd best bullpen in MLB behind the Atlanta Braves. The San Francisco Giants are a very close 3rd. A 7-8-9 of Soriano, Robertson, and Mo the Yankees will be in great hands at the end of the game. Chamberlain is a wild card coming off Tommy John surgery because he was pitching extremely well before he got hurt. Combine the great Yankees bullpen with an improved starting staff,and you are looking at one of the best overall pitching staffs in MLB. The Yankees bullpen was a huge reason for the teams’ 2011 success and should be about just as good heading into 2012.
Posted on January 24, 2012, in Personal Opinion and tagged Boone Logan, Cory Wade, David Robertson, Hector Noesi, Joba Chamberlain, Luis Ayala, Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.