Makeshift Bullpen Getting It Done
If you were to tell me at the beginning of the season that Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Corey Wade would be pitching important innings this year I would have told you to get your head examined. At the start of the year the Yankees had a bullpen that projected to be elite. They have lived up to that billing, but it has not been because of the guys you expected. With Mariano Rivera and David Robertson going down those 4 pitchers and Rafael Soriano have all stepped up in a huge way.
The fact that Soriano has saved 11 out of 12 games this year comes as no surprise. He was an elite closer in Tampa Bay and will continue to be here. I was in the minority at the time of his signing because I liked the move. The Yankees had a shaky rotation at the time so why not make the games pretty much over with a lead after 7 innings? He also gave the Yankees insurance in case the unthinkable happened, which it finally did this year. Soriano deserves huge credit for taking over for Mariano Rivera almost flawlessly so far. It was an outrage that he got booed after blowing the save on Sunday against the Mets. However, since I expected this from Soriano he isn’t the real story here; Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley, and Cory Wade are.
Joe Girardi has always gotten the most out of his bullpens during his tenure as Yankees manager. He always makes sure they are well rested and he has done a phenomenal of mixing and matching since David Robertson got hurt. This was particularly evident against Atlanta. All three games were close and the late innings were all high leverage innings. Rapda, Eppley, Wade, and Logan all got opportunities to get holds and have converted. Rapada has been a great LOOGY this year, as he has held lefties to a line of .163/.280/.256/.536. Eppley has relied on his fantastic sinker to get the job done this year. He has thrown his sinking fastball 78% of the time this year to induce an incredible ground ball rate of 70.5%. If you keep the ball on the ground that much you will be successful.
Boone Logan was a guy I always thought had the potential to be this good and more than just an average LOOGY. Logan’s line vs. lefties (.195/.255/.293/.548) is outstanding along with his 13.09 K/9 and 2.45 ERA. I always liked his hard fastball and slider combination, but he has completely changed the way he was pitched this year.Logan has only thrown his fastball 47.7 % of the time as opposed to 62 % last year, and 67 % the year before. Hence, he has thrown his slider 49.9 % of the time this year as opposed to 35.9 % last year, and 26.1 % of the time the year before.Logan’s slider has an incredible Whiff % of 26.49%. Cory Wade has been a great jack of all trades guy because he has the ability to throw 5 different pitches at any time. He is best known for his slow curve that has kept hitters off balance. He has let up big homers to Mark Trumbo and Miguel Cabrera of late but has been solid for the most part this year. Wade is 0-1 on the year, with a 2.63 ERA, a .95 WHIP, and 9.9 K/9.
These 4 Yankees have been the unsung heroes of the season. Now with David Robertson back they will face less pressure and should continue to thrive. Also, they can stay fresher because with the Yankees having all of these late leads lately they have been getting a ton of work. Robertson makes this bullpen perhaps the best in the MLB even without the great Mariano Rivera. The starters also deserve credit for carrying their weight without Robertson available. If the Yankees go on to have a great season people need to remember this time when Robertson got hurt and these 4 pitchers held the fort down.