The Yankees have turned $3.6 million into three excellent pitchers in 2024

MLB: New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins
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Matt Blake and Sam Briend were hired ahead of the 2020 season to try and modernize the Yankees’ organization on the pitching side of things, and they’ve been some of the best hires Brian Cashman has ever made. The duo has helped the Bronx Bombers develop a reputation for improving pitchers when they come over here, and no matter how banged up their rotation and bullpen are they’ve found a way to prevent runs reliably. Some of their best work has been done on players who other teams discarded off of their roster without a second thought, and they’ve worked their magic again.

Cody Poteet, Michael Tonkin, and Luke Weaver were all cut from rosters over the last few months, and the Yankees have turned what other teams deemed to be trash into treasure, as they’ve paid $3.6 million for a combined 2.08 ERA through the first third of the MLB season.

Matt Blake and Sam Briend Work Their Magic on the Yankees Again

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
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When the Yankees signed Cody Poteet to a Major League deal, it was valued at $750,000 if he were to join their Major League roster, and he’s held his own as a starter for this team. Through four starts, he’s averaged a little over five innings a start, with a 2.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He likely wouldn’t sustain this over a larger sample size, but the Yankees have helped him make some changes to improve his arsenal. In addition to his fastball-sinker-changeup-curveball mix, they’ve helped him develop a sweeping slider, making him even more deceptive and crafty.

The right-hander was just cast off the Kansas City Royals roster this past winter, and the Yankees have turned him into a nice spot starter to supplement their rotation in the absence of both Gerrit Cole and Clarke Schmidt. Another name who the Yankees picked up off the scrap heap? Michael Tonkin, who has a 0.89 ERA with the Yankees and has become a reliable multi-inning threat thanks to an increased usage of his slider. Given the inconsistency of some of their top projected relievers (and Jonathan Loaisiga’s season-ending injury), his performance has become even more important.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
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One of the few relievers who have been consistent all season for the Yankees is Luke Weaver, who is striking out nearly 27% of batters faced with a low walk rate, resulting in a crisp 2.63 ERA. The right-hander was designated for assignment by both the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners in 2023 before coming over to the Yankees, and they brought him back on a one-year $2 million deal with a club option for the 2025 season. This signing has worked out wonderfully for the Yankees, as he’s throwing a four-seamer with elite vertical movement and his changeup-cutter duo has been brilliant.

His ability to toss multiple innings makes him extremely valuable to this bullpen, and these three pitchers have come up huge for the Bronx Bombers throughout the season. As injuries continue to mount for every team, the Yankees have been able to sustain themselves thanks to great scouting and player development, as they’ve turned pitchers who no one seemingly wanted into reliable contributors for this team.

Finding value on the margins is even more important when you’re trying to retain Juan Soto with their current payroll situation, and the Yankees have control of all three of these players at a very reduced cost in 2025. If Tonkin and Weaver remain healthy, that’s two bullpen spots you can pencil in for the 2025 Yankees, and Cody Poteet could remain in the organization as a valuable depth piece to bolster their rotation if needed.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees Workouts
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Matt Blake and Sam Briend deserve an incredible amount of credit for what they’ve done with the organization, helping pitchers turn their careers around and making sure the Yankees remain excellent on that side of the ball. Dating back to the 2020 season, the Yankees are third in strikeout rate (24.6%) and second in ERA (3.65) as a pitching staff, as they’ve become one of the top pitching factories in all of baseball in their tenure.

The Yankees have an excellent thing going for them, as they have the lowest ERA in baseball despite Gerrit Cole still being out. Will they continue to pitch this way all season? Obviously not, but for now, they’ve stayed afloat because of some unlikely names showing up when the Yankees needed them most and that’s a reflection of how excellent these two are at their jobs.

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