New York Yankees News/Rumors: The Yankees need a “Hand” in the bullpen, rebuilding necessary

William Parlee

The once best in baseball New York Yankees bullpen is no more. This past season with the departure of Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery and the ineffectiveness of Adam Ottavino, the Yankees were left in a vulnerable spot. Manager Aaron Boone was left with undependable relievers near the end of games. Even Chad Green had one of his worst seasons, although still mostly reliable, and the once unhittable closer Aroldis Chapman became hittable.  Chapman gave up the winning run in the last three attempts to advance to a World Series.

For years the New York Yankee bullpen depended on fast ballers to get hitters out. But this year,, the different looks of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Dodgers lower cost pitchers showed that my no longer be the way to go. In the later part of the ’90s and the 2000s the Yankees had the luxury of Mariano Rivera to close the game. When “Mo” walked out of the bullpen,, and you heard “enter sandman,” for the most part,, you knew the game was over and that the Yankees would usually win.

Upon the exit of Rivera from baseball, the Yankees spent a lot of money; they brought David Robertson back, acquired Andrew Miller, got Tommy Kahnle and later Adam Ottavino. They spent this money because they knew that they didn’t have a starting staff going to go deep into games.  That was then,, and this is now, and the bullpen has lost its glamour. One bright spot in the pitching realm was Luis Cessa,, who had his best year but is mostly a low-leverage guy.

With the New York Yankees starting pitcher situation in more disarray than it has been in years, the Yankees will again need to strengthen its bullpen. This will be a challenge for new pitching coach Matt Blake. He has many arms to work within Jonathan Loaisiaga, Luis Avilan, Jonathan Holder, and Tyler lines. Then there’s the young developing arms of Clarke Schmidt, Miguel Yajare, Brook Kriske, and Nick Nelson to be worked with, hoping that one of them can become dependable arms.

With Deivi Garcia most likely becoming a starting pitcher at some point in the upcoming season, the Yankees will most likely have to add a veteran arm to the bullpen with Kahnle expected to miss part if not all of the 2021 season. The Rays, who have barely spent a dime on their bullpen. Instead, they thrive on diversity in their ‘pen: their relievers come from several different arm angles and have guys that range from crafty lefties to fireballing over-the-top righties. The Rays’ bullpen has someone to match up with everyone. They Yankees will try to find a way to deversify so that they can show that same type of surprise.

Looking outside the up and coming arms the Yankees may have to look at someone like Brad Hand a free agent from the Indians.  Hane over his 22.0 innings of work, Hand finished with the most saves (16) among all qualified relievers in the majors, producing a 2.05 ERA, 2.48 xERA, 1.37 FIP (third-lowest), 30 FIP- (third-lowest), 0.77 WHIP (sixth-lowest), 4.7% walk rate (11th-lowest), 33.7% strikeout rate (20th-highest), zero percent HR/FB rate (tied for league-best), and a 1.1 fWAR rating (tied for second-highest), according to FanGraphs.com.

Hand would be the excellent set up man for closer Aroldis Chapman and would challenge  Zack Britton for that set up man spot, but both would put the Yankees back in the great pullpen discussion.