New York Yankees Player Profiles: Darren O’Day the Yankees great hope for the bullpen

New York Yankees, Darren O'Day
Oct 17, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Darren O'Day (56) throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the 2020 NLCS at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankee’s Darren O’Day has had a rebirth in his pitching style and the mound he will be throwing from. O’Day is the Yankee’s latest acquisition by general manager Brian Cashman to improve the Yankees team. O’Day is old by pitching standards; he is 38 years old but that has not affected his performance as one of the best relievers in the game. Darren has had a long-time association with the Yankees facing them for seven seasons with the Baltimore Orioles alongside Zack Britton. The Yankees and O’Day reached an agreement that will pay him $2.5 million on a one year deal with both a team and player option for 2022.

O’Day will bring a whole new look to the Yankee bullpen; he is a right-handed submariner. His sidearm delivery gives a different look that right-hand hitters find difficult to figure out. He is not a power thrower by any means, which is also different from most Yankee relievers. His fastball is only 86 mph, but his command and arsenal of pitches serve him well. He throws a four-seam fastball and sinker and his strikeout pitch, the slider.

O’Day brings a drastically different look to the Yankees bullpen, contrasting particularly with Britton’s sinkerball approach. Hitters will face Chad Green’s fastball, O’Day’s sidearm slider (which resembles an overhand cutter), Britton’s bowling ball, and Chapman’s heater and slider combination. The Yankees like to make opposing hitters dizzy in late innings by making them face relievers with distinct and varied approaches; O’Day brings with him the ultimate tool in changing a hitter’s eye level. O’Day was one of the best relievers in the game last season, going 4-0 with a minuscule 1.10 ERA.

Let’s get to know the New York Yankee’s O’Day. He was born Darren Christopher O’Day on October 22, 1982, in Jacksonville, Florida. He attended Bishop Kenny High School and played baseball there for the Crusaders. After that, he attended the University of Florida in Gainsville, where he played for the Gators from 2003 to 2006. There he won several awards. He graduated with a degree in agriculture and life sciences but was undrafted. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, and in 30 games, he was 0–1 with a 4.57 ERA in ​43 1⁄3 innings.

The New York Mets selected O’Day in the Rule 5 draft during December of 2008. After spring training, he made the roster but was designated for assignment by the Mets two weeks into the season. He was claimed by the Texas Rangers in April of 2009 and made his major league debut on the same day. He was an effective reliever for the Rangers with an ERA of 1.94 in 64 games that year. The following season he pitched in 72 games with an ERA of 2.03. In 2011 he had two injuries that limited him to 16 games but had an ERA of 5.40. He also pitched in eighteen minor league games. He did not pitch in the postseason.

The Baltimore Orioles claimed O’Day off waivers on November 2, 2011. O’Day settled into the 8th inning setup pitcher role later in the 2012 season, often leaving the game in a manageable state for closer Jim Johnson. O’Day posted a 7–1 record with a 2.28 ERA by the end of the 2012 season. In 2013 he continued to pitch well for the Orioles, going 5–3 as their 8th inning setup man while posting a 2.18 ERA in 68 games. He collected two saves and pitched 62.0 innings while striking out 59 batters and holding opponents to a .210 batting average.

O’Day had a career year in 2014, as he pitched 68​2⁄3 innings in 68 games and collected a 5–2 record with four saves. He posted a 1.70 ERA along with a 0.89 WHIP. He also struck out 73 batters and held opponents to a career-best .174 batting average. In 2015, O’Day was selected as an All-Star. He finished his career year with a 1.52 ERA in 68 appearances, totaling 65​1⁄3 innings. He compiled a 6–2 record and set a career-high with six saves. He also set a career-high with 82 strikeouts.

O’Day had a poor 2016 but rebounded from the season, registering a healthy season in which he appeared in 64 games. He also had an ERA of 3.43 in ​60 1⁄3 innings in 2017. O’Day appeared in 20 games for the O’s in  2018 before, undergoing season-ending surgery on his left hamstring and being traded to the Atlanta Braves. O’Day opened the 2019 season on the IL with a right forearm injury; he was activated to the major league roster on September 5. In 2019 he was 0–0 with a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings over 8 games. On November 8, 2019, he re-signed with the Braves on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, with a club option for a second year. He finished the 2020 season 4-0 with an ERA of 1.10. The Braves declined his option, and the New York Yankees signed him on January 27, 2021. The contract for the Yankees was for one year and $2.5 million. Being one of the best pitchers in 2020, the New York Yankees hope to replicate that season this year. If not Zack Britton he is the perfect setup man for Aroldis Chapman and is a compilable replacement for Tommy Kahnle.

Although O’Day sounds like a traditional Irish name, O’Day is actually Polish; his original name was Odachowski and was changed to O’Day by his older brother when he was married. O’Day is married to Elizabeth Prann, an anchor for CNN Headline News. The pair have a six-year-old daughter named Claire. The family will be taking up residency in the New York suburbs.