The Yankees have an unsung hero in the bullpen

jimmy cordero, yankees
May 15, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jimmy Cordero (70) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Following a series sweep against the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Yankees have reclaimed the top spot among MLB bullpens with a 2.87 ERA.

Despite injuries leading to inconsistent performances in other positions, the Bombers’ bullpen has thrived this season.

High-profile players like Michael King, Wandy Peralta, and recently, Hamilton have garnered most of the spotlight. However, the unheralded Jimmy Cordero, a journeyman in the MLB, has found a steady role with the Yankees.

The Yankees are getting great value from Jimmy Cordero:

Cordero spent the 2020 season with the Chicago White Sox, pitching 26.2 innings, before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which largely sidelined him for the subsequent two years.

Nonetheless, the Yankees have discovered exceptional value in the 31-year-old relief pitcher, who has already delivered 20 innings this year and boasts a 2.25 ERA.

Despite averaging 98.1 mph on his fastball during his rookie season in 2018, Cordero has improved that figure to 98.7 mph this year over a larger sample size. Given his increased velocity post-Tommy John surgery and increasingly dominant outings, it’s clear he has made a full recovery and can contribute significantly.

In fact, over his last 9.2 innings pitched, Cordero has surrendered only two earned runs and has maintained a run-free streak over his past five appearances, striking out five batters and allowing a single walk.

Increasingly confident in Cordero’s capabilities, the Yankees deployed him as an opener against the Toronto Blue Jays last Tuesday. He pitched two scoreless innings, inducing three ground balls and three fly balls.

In terms of his primary pitch repertoire, Cordero employs a sinker and slider combination.

His sinker, which he throws 69.5% of the time, has elicited a .174 batting average against, with an 18.6% whiff rate and 23.3% put-away rate. His slider, although used only 27.5% of the time, serves as his primary strikeout pitch. It has led to eight strikeouts with a 27.9% whiff rate, a .182 batting average against, and boasts 83% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher.

Pitching coach Matt Blake has uncovered another hidden talent, akin to Clay Holmes in 2022, who has occasionally struggled to replicate his performance this year.

As Cordero continues to showcase consistent performances and grow in confidence, the Yankees will increasingly rely on him, particularly with Hamilton sidelined for the next four weeks due to a right groin strain suffered a few days ago.