Yankees are getting incredible value out of left-handed bullpen arm

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Hill was acquired by the Yankees after the White Sox designated him for assignment, and it wasn’t as if Chicago was unjustified in the move. The southpaw had a 5.87 ERA in 27 appearances, and in his age-34 season, it looked as if he was nearing the end of his Major League career. Not all reclamation projects end up panning out, but the Yankees saw something they really liked in Tim Hill and took a chance on him. So far, their faith in the veteran lefty has paid off, as he’s been an excellent multi-inning weapon for the Bronx Bombers in a time of dire need.

After spending the majority of the season without a serious left-handed threat out of the bullpen, Tim Hill has come out of nowhere to become a massive part of a bullpen that’s starting to hit its stride again.

Tim Hill Has Become a Massive Part of the Yankees’ Bullpen

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
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When the Yankees signed Tim Hill, I suggested that they go to his four-seamer more at the top of the zone, but they’ve gone in the opposite direction. Throwing more sinkers and sliders against left-handed batters specifically has been the strategy that’s allowed him to be more effective in those matchups, as he’s keeping the ball on the ground more frequently but also starting to show comfortability throwing his slider for strikes and trying to get batters to expand the zone with it.

Something that Tim Hill struggled with was generating chases, as batters would rarely expand the zone against him, which forced him to throw pitches in-zone and surrender damage contact. With the Yankees, he’s seen the chase rate go up by 12.3%, which is a massive improvement that has resulted in Hill getting even more groundballs and recording outs more effectively. Across eight appearances with the Yankees, he’s posted a 2.38 ERA and +0.19 Win Probability Added, immediately becoming their best left-handed reliever.

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have a combined 4.45 ERA and -0.5 fWAR from left-handed relievers not named Tim Hill, and that’s been a massive problem for the team all year. It’s been such a huge problem that Kevin Cash opted to let Josh Lowe hit against Tim Hill knowing that they didn’t have any reliable left-handed arms they could go to outside of him. Improving that part of their bullpen will be a huge part of their deadline plans, but what Tim Hill has done for them in the short term cannot be understated.

Having someone immediately come in and be a multi-inning weapon who can also get big outs in high leverage is massive, and Hill has outperformed any expectations you could have reasonably had for him. The Yankees picked up a player who the worst team in Major League Baseball deemed not good enough, and somehow he’s contributing valuable innings for a contender. If the team is able to pull out of this slide soon, they’ll have a chance to get a boost at the trade deadline as the Yankees are expected to be active.

Bullpen help should still be a massive focus, but they could build a scary bullpen if they’re able to keep getting strong innings from Tim Hill in addition to the new arms that could head their way.

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