Yankees getting extraordinary value from Mets castaway

MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

While the Yankees‘ bullpen has been struggling in the standings over the past few weeks, one relief pitcher, Michael Tonkin, has excelled since his acquisition from the New York Mets a few months ago. The 34-year-old veteran has pitched for three different teams this season, including the Mets, Minnesota Twins, and now the Yankees.

Tonkin’s Impressive Turnaround with the Yankees

With 266.1 innings of MLB experience under his belt, Tonkin has never had as much success as he’s enjoyed with the Bombers over 31 innings this season. Currently, he boasts a collective 2.25 ERA, but with the Yankees, his performance has been even more impressive, recording a 1.16 ERA along with a 76.9% left-on-base rate and a 43.2% ground ball rate.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Strategic Pitch Adjustments and Success

The Yankees have significantly tweaked Tonkin’s pitch usage since acquiring him. Notably, they’ve reduced his four-seam fastball to just 21.2% and increased his sinker to 27.3% and slider to 51.5%, marking a 20% swing in some areas.

Pitching coach Matt Blake consistently aims to maximize value by implementing specific strategies tailored to each pitcher. For Tonkin, the focus has been on improving and increasing the usage of his sinker and slider. This season, his slider is achieving 42.1 inches of vertical movement, which is 10% more than the average MLB pitcher. His sinker showcases a dramatic break, featuring 29.5 inches of drop and 18.4 inches of horizontal break, which are 16% and 19% better than average, respectively. These adjustments have solidified Tonkin’s role as a valuable asset in the Yankees’ bullpen.

Looking Ahead: Potential Additions and Returns

Despite Tonkin’s tremendous performance, the Yankees are still in need of more support as several key pitchers are on their way back from injuries. Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, and Ian Hamilton are all names on the recovery list. However, as the trade deadline approaches at the end of July, General Manager Brian Cashman might still be looking to strengthen the bullpen further by adding additional reinforcements.

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