The New York Yankees featured one of the more dominant bullpens in the MLB in 2018, but that didn’t stop them from improving it even further. The Bombers acquired reliever Adam Ottavino on a three-year, $27 million deal, replacing the departed David Robertson.
Last season, Ottavino finished with a 2.43 ERA and six wins (four losses).Â With Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Zack Britton, and Ottavino making up the bullpen, every option seems to have “ace” reliever potential.
Can we trust Ottavino to be an elite option for the Yankees?
Now, it’s important to be cognizant of Ottavino’s past in regard to statisticalÂ success. The 33-year-old righty has only had one truly elite season, which was in 2018. Striking out 13 per nine innings, Ottavino raised his game to another level, and the Yankees are hoping he can continue to provide quality performances for the remainder of his contract. They will need him at the top of his game to make a run at a potential World Series.
My biggest concern is his inconsistencyÂ by year, as in 2017 he boasted an ERA over five. He averaged over six walks per nine innings and has only two winning seasons in eight years. While that doesn’t necessarily reflect his pitching, it’s certainlyÂ bothersome.
How did Ottavino fuel a stellar 2018?
The Yankees’ new reliever actually decreased his velocity and saw improvement after a troubling 2017.Â According toÂ Â Baseball Savant, the velocity on Ottavinoâ€™s sinker actually fell, from 94.2 mph in 2017 to 93.8 mph in 2018. His fastballÂ dropped from 94.4 mph to 94.2 mph. While these are incremental drops, they tell a story.
Ottavino managed to improve his pitching by actually reducing his speed and focusing primarily on his slider. It was his No.1 pitch while his sinker was his No.2. With a bullpenÂ stocked full of different skill-sets, I would expect head coach Aaron Boone to utilize his pitchers tactically against specific hitters and teams. Ottavino will likely be a stellar addition for the Yanks and make a significant impact on the season ahead.