The Yankees have one underrated bullpen arm set to play a bigger role in 2023

lou trivino, yankees
Sep 3, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Lou Trivino (56) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

When the Yankees acquired Frankie Montas, little did they know that the best piece in that entire package would end up being nothing more than a toss-in? Lou Trivino was added to the deal that saw Montas head to New York, with Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, and Luis Medina heading back to Oakland. It appeared that he was added simply because Oakland knew he was going to be asking for a few million the next year, and he was struggling a bit with his pitch mix and settling into a groove. 

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The Yankees got extrordinary value out of Lou Trivino:

Trivino was a guy that was once one of the best arms in the Athletics’ pen, but last year he saw his numbers skyrocket, even with an increase in strikeouts and whiffs in general. In 32.0 innings with the team, he posted a career-best 12.66 K/9, but he also gave up a 1.41 HR/9 (career-worst) and a gaudy 6.47 ERA to pair with a much more down-to-earth 3.83 FIP.

As the trade talks between the A’s and Yanks progressed, many were already anticipating one of Trivino, or say, Domingo Acevedo, to be headed with Montas as part of the deal. Fortunately, the Yanks got the better of the two. 

Trivino would excel in ways that not even the Yankees were anticipating, as once he joined the squad, he focused more on inducing soft contact opposed to looking to make the batters look foolish every time they stepped in the box. His K/9 dropped down to 9.14, and with his new approach of attacking hitters and trying to get grounders, he nibbled a bit more, leading to an uptick in his BB/9 to 4.15 (was 3.94 with OAK).

In the 21.2 innings in the Bronx, he hammered his sinker and slider combination, and his 1.66 ERA and 3.34 FIP both indicate that the results went his way. 

His ability to induce soft contact was the main reason the team continued to go to him in the late portion of the season, as his stuff was playing up exactly how they could’ve hoped. His HR/FB% plummeted when he left the Colosseum, as it dropped from 20.8% to a minuscule 5.6%. He also only surrendered a 3.4% Barrel % when he joined the Yanks, and the Soft Contact % induced was 22.0% — up nearly 10% from his 12.5% mark he posted with Oakland prior. 

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Trivino could take on a much bigger role in 2023:

Trivino figured out what worked for him and, naturally, what didn’t. Even though he was still giving up some hard contact and more flyballs than with the A’s, he was managing to keep them in the ballpark. Additionally, he rocked a fantastic mustache that will certainly come in handy this year, as Nestor’s mustache partner in crime, Matt Carpenter, left for San Diego. He has that Yankee feel to him, and the team agreed to a one-year deal worth $4.1 million to avoid heading to arbitration.

Trivino was certainly a diamond in the rough for the organization, and if he’s able to do what he did last season with them, he’ll be a key contributor in a dominant bullpen. 

Lou Trivino may even see a few save opportunities this year, given the team’s likely decision to run a closer by committee and the fact he has some experience doing the job for Oakland. In 2021, he ended up taking the job for the A’s and notched 22 Saves, despite appearing in 71 games total. Now, Oakland uses Puk as their closer, and Trivino is arguably the fifth or sixth-best arm in the Yanks’ pen of doom. This team will be far better than last year, and Trivino will certainly have something to do with that.