The Yankees struck gold with hard-throwing bullpen arm

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

When it comes to the bullpen, the Yankees consistently manage to find value where other teams aren’t looking. The production line that Matt Blake has produced is legendary, and the latest addition to the Yankees’ pitching unit is Nick Burdi, a relief arm capable of touching triple digits with his fastball. He has dealt with a significant number of injuries in the past.

Prior to the 2024 season, Burdi had only pitched 15 innings in his entire MLB career over the course of four years, including just three innings last season with the Chicago Cubs. He’s suffered Tommy John surgery and a number of other issues that have derailed his momentum, but the 31-year-old has finally found a home with the Bombers, and they are maximizing his skill set.

The Yankees Are Seeing the Upside Burdi Contains

To open the season, Burdi has only tossed 2.1 innings in three appearances, but he has a perfect 0.00 ERA, a 2.24 FIP, 11.57 strikeouts per nine, and a 100% left-on-base rate.

Burdi has heavily relied on his four-seam fastball, throwing it 61.4% of the time and averaging 97 mph. Over four at-bats, Burdi has produced two strikeouts, not allowing a hit, and a 35.7% whiff rate. Dabbling with a slider at 36.4% of the time, the veteran bullpen arm has been equally as impressive with that pitch, which produces 166% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher in the MLB. His slider generates 14.7 inches of horizontal break, essentially being constituted as a sweeper. Blake loves his sweeper/fastball combination in the bullpen, and Burdi does just that with elite pitch movement.

On Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees asked Burdi to step in and help clean up in the eighth inning. He struck out one batter and tossed 18 without any hiccups. He handed the ball to Victor Gonzalez, who gave up a hit but was otherwise solid over just nine pitches, getting out of the ninth unscathed.

Despite losing a few key arms and the Yankees still down Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, and Tommy Kahnle, it is impressive the value they are getting from players who otherwise wouldn’t be on the team.

The bullpen has been excellent over the first five games, picking up right where the starting pitching has left off. Thanks to the Yankees’ offense giving them a nice cushion, the pitchers have plenty of confidence to work with. Burdi, while still dancing around injury probability, is looking like the picture he was always destined to be.

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