The Yankees have a serious problem in the bullpen

MLB: New York Yankees at San Diego Padres, caleb ferguson
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The New York Yankees‘ bullpen has been deteriorating at an almost unfathomable pace over the past few weeks. They currently host a collective 3.65 ERA, and after being the number one ranked unit in baseball over the first two months, they’ve plummeted to the 13th, just barely above average.

Pitching coach Matt Blake has deployed a system that relies heavily on extracting cheap value, allowing the Yankees to spend in other places. That is all fine until a few guys get injured, and suddenly, they’re relying on free agents and waiver claims to fill in the gaps.

Caleb Ferguson: The Yankees Are Getting Zero Value

However, the team acquired Caleb Ferguson from the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason, hoping he would be a key component in the bullpen. After hosting a 3.43 ERA last season across 61 innings, Ferguson has been arguably the team’s worst bullpen piece.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
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Over 28 innings this year, Ferguson hosts a 5.46 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 11.25 strikeouts per nine, a 63.5% left-on-base rate, and a 43.8% ground ball rate. Both his home runs and walks per nine have spiked this season, meaning he’s trending in the wrong direction.

Statistical Struggles and Pitching Issues

Ferguson ranks in the 79th percentile in strikeout rate and is well below average in most statistics, including a 4.56 expected ERA and a .257 expected batting average. Opposing hitters are smashing his four-seam fastball, which he’s throwing 55.7% of the time.

They’re hitting .282 against his four-seamer with a .563 slugging percentage. Similar to Carlos Rodon, both of their fastballs have become liabilities, and the Yankees need to make a change. Ferguson does have a cutter that’s producing a .071 batting average, but his slurve and sinker are getting destroyed.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
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Velocity Drop and Pitch Effectiveness

Interestingly, his four-seam fastball has lost 2 mph in velocity compared to 2023, which is extremely concerning and likely a reason it has become one of his worst pitches. It’s getting a bit more movement than during his time with the Dodgers, so batters are easily picking it up.

Looking Ahead: Adjustments and Returns

At this point, the Yankees need far more out of the 28-year-old, who will be a free agent after the 2024 season. Bringing him back seems like a horrible long-term decision, but Blake needs to find a way to extract value the rest of the way, especially as the Yankees nurse several injuries.

The team is eyeing the hopeful return of Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, and Ian Hamilton at some point, but by the time they return to action, the Yankees may find themselves in a difficult situation, crawling out of a deficit in the AL East.

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