Yankees getting elite bullpen arm back from injury

yankees, ian hamilton
Apr 29, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Ian Hamilton (71) throws against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Yankees navigate through offensive struggles, they find solace in the imminent return of key pitchers, bolstering an already strong starting lineup and bullpen. While fans might be eagerly waiting for a comeback from slugger Aaron Judge, the team is set to welcome back top-tier free agent acquisition Carlos Rodon and elite bullpen contributor Ian Hamilton.

Carlos Rodon’s Anticipated Return on July 7

Carlos Rodon, a significant free agent acquisition for the Yankees, is gearing up for his last rehab assignment, with an expected return on July 7. His addition to the starting lineup will undoubtedly provide a strong boost to the team’s pitching prowess.

Ian Hamilton Set to Boost Elite Yankees’ Bullpen

The Yankees are eagerly anticipating Ian Hamilton’s return on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics. This marks the second game of a three-game series, and Hamilton’s comeback is expected to fortify what is already considered one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Hamilton, 28, is experiencing the best season of his career. He boasts impressive stats, including a 1.23 ERA, 2.26 xFIP, 12.27 strikeouts per nine, an 87.5% left-on-base rate, and an outstanding 57.1% ground ball rate across 22 innings. Hamilton has proven his worth after bouncing between several teams, finding his groove with the Yankees, and demonstrating an effective blend of pitches.

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The ‘Slambio’: A Secret Weapon in Hamilton’s Arsenal

Hamilton’s pitching sequence comprises a slider, four-seam fastball, and sinker. Interestingly, his slider has earned the nickname “slambio”, a hybrid of a slider and changeup.

This season, Hamilton’s ‘slambio’ pitch has yielded a .173 batting average against, with a 40.9% whiff rate and 29.1% put-away rate. The pitch showcases a -65% horizontal movement, appearing initially as a slider but behaving like a change-up as it approaches the hitter. This unique combination is a significant contributor to Hamilton’s success, keeping opposing hitters on their toes.

Moreover, Hamilton’s four-seam fastball has been remarkably effective. He has used this pitch 26.4% of the time, resulting in a .091 batting average with a 41.2% whiff rate and 24% put-away rate. The fastball generates 17% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher’s, enabling Hamilton to use the tunneling concept for creating deviations.

The transformation of Hamilton’s pitching is largely attributed to the efforts of pitching coach Matt Blake. Hamilton had faced difficulties at the minor-league level with Minnesota, Cleveland, and Chicago. However, his development over the recent months under Blake’s tutelage has been impressive and encouraging for the Yankees.

From Minor-League Struggles to Major-League Impact

Hamilton was a significant asset for the Yankees when closer Clay Holmes struggled earlier in the season. However, a short rest and limited warm-up during a blowout loss resulted in a groin pull for Hamilton. Fortunately, he is now fully recovered and ready to impact the game significantly, especially as the Yankees grapple with scoring challenges.

Hamilton’s return is a testament to the Yankees’ resilient pitching lineup, demonstrating the team’s capacity to bounce back and strengthen their roster despite offensive difficulties. His recovery is a piece of welcome news for the Yankees’ fans, bringing hope and anticipation for the team’s upcoming games.