Can the New York Yankees trust their bullpen in 2020?

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

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With the New York Yankees losing Dellin Betances and Nestor Cortes Jr. in the bullpen this offseason, they will journey into 2020 with a reliance on other arms. Betances missed all of 2019 virtually, pitching in just one game before tearing his Achilles tendon and hitting the free-agent market with a dud year in tow.

Betances latched on with the Mets on a one year, $10.5 million deal, which will force the Yankees to rely more on options like Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton. The retention of Aroldis Chapman solidified the closer role, but the depth in the bullpen should be concerning.



General manager Brian Cashman allocated plenty of resources into the bolstering of the starting rotation, dishing out $324 million over nine years for Gerrit Cole. The money spent on securing arguably the best pitcher in baseball made the probability of signing a big relief arm unrealistic. There were talks of Brewers’ Josh Hader coming to New York, but nothing materialized.

The New York Yankees are shifting their strategy:

In 2019, manager Aaron Boone adopted a bullpen mentality that featured tons of pitchers that were used in specific scenarios. It’s not that the starters weren’t expected to survive for multiple innings, it was the simple reality that they couldn’t. With Luis Severino missing a majority of the campaign and Jordan Montgomery recovering from Tommy John, the Yankees were left with Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German (until his suspension), and James Paxton to hold down the fort with minimal support.

The lack of quality starting options forced Boone to feature his bullpen more frequently than he would’ve liked. In 2020, they will rely on Cole, Severino, and others to pitch deep into games, allowing the Yankees to take the pressure off the bullpen, where fatigue set in during the postseason.

The core four of Chapman, Britton, Ottavino, and Kahnle are all over the age of 30, and their degradation has been apparent. Still, they should hold enough quality and efficiency to enable the survival of the Yankees. However, it’s very dependent on the health of the starting pitching rotation, which is where new strength and conditioning coach, Eric Cressey, enters the mix.

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