The Yankees may have struck gold with high-velocity bullpen arm

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees seem to find quality bullpen arms in the bargain bin on a yearly basis, with Clay Holmes and Ian Hamilton being perfect examples of their success. However, pitching Coach Matt Blank is excited about the prospects of Nick Burdi, a high-velocity bullpen arm who’s dealt with a number of injuries over the past few seasons but has palpable upside.

Now 31 years old, Burdi has only pitched 15.1 innings at the MLB level, hosting a 9.39 ERA. Ultimately, pain and rehabilitation have been the name of the game for Burdi over the past few years, but he’s finally feeling back to his normal self, and changing his arm slot slightly could help decrease the probability of another injury.

The Yankees Are Giving Burdi a Chance at Glory

In fact, the Yankees announced that Burdi made the team on Monday after a stellar spring performance, hosting a 2.45 ERA over 7.1 innings. He recorded an 80% left-on-base rate and a 50% ground ball rate, more than suggesting he’s capable of helping the Yankees this upcoming season.

Burdi’s four-seam fastball, which is his bread-and-butter, averaged 97.6 mph with 2379 RPMs. It produced 13.1 inches of vertical movement and 10.5 inches of arm-side movement, which is incredible at that velocity. In addition, his slider generates great sweeper action and should be a tremendous asset alongside his fastball. He does dabble with a change-up and sinker on occasion, but he’s really a four-seam/slider combination pitcher.

Having battled so much adversity, Burdi is simply thankful to be with the Yankees and pushing forward with a big league team after spending most of 2023 working his way back from another issue. He tossed only three innings last season for the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s one of those things where I feel like I can still do this,” Burdi said Sunday. “I feel like at some point, the tides are gonna turn and the health is gonna be there. To be in this locker room, some of the guys I played with last year, we had a saying, ‘We have a jersey, we got a chance.’ To me, if someone’s gonna give me a chance, I want to make the most of it and run with the opportunity.” 

A Quality Relief Arm in the Making

The truth is simple, Burdi has the stuff to be a great bullpen piece for the Yankees in 2024 and beyond, and he would be another example of where they’ve managed to find value when others are looking in a different direction. Burdi is capable of touching triple digits with his fastball and his velocity should ramp up during the regular season. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees were a bit careful with his usage early in the year, allowing him to progress naturally and not force any lengthy outings on the veteran.

Nonetheless, the Yankees are set to have one of the best bullpens in the game once again, and it is because of value signings like Burdi that they are so dominant.

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