One of the New York Yankees’ strengths during the 2022 season was their bullpen. Headlined by Michael King and the first-half version of Clay Holmes, the team’s relief arsenal was stellar, at least until injuries began to take hold.
The Yankees succumbed to injuries in the bullpen:
The Bombers lost King in the middle of the season due to an elbow injury but luckily was able to avoid Tommy John surgery. King earned a 2.29 ERA, 2.42 xFIP, 11.65 strikeouts per nine, and a 76.9% left on-base rate over 51 innings. Losing him was devastating, especially during the postseason when they could’ve used his qualities.
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However, the Yankees got tremendous value out of Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and even rookie Ron Marinaccio. Holmes, specifically, earned a 2.54 ERA over 63.2 innings but dealt with a back injury late in the season that dampened his homestretch.
The Yankees don’t plan to lose any ground in the bullpen moving forward, which is what owner Hal Steinbrenner hinted at during a recent interview.
“We have a really good starting rotation. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be looking. We are going to look at everything as we always do. We had some big hits [injuries] in the bullpen, there is no doubt we need to look at the bullpen.”Per Hal Steinbrenner in an interview.
Clearly, Steinbrenner is content with his starting rotation but noted that the bullpen could use more allocation after Scott Effross suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery at the end of the season. Effross will miss the entire 2023 campaign, a key arm to forfeit just after acquiring him from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline.
The Yankees are relinquishing three players from the bullpen to free agency, notably Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, and Miguel Castro. Chapman and Britton are easily replaceable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team elected to retain Castro on a cheap contract.
Nonetheless, general manager Brian Cashman has his hands full, but there are a few priorities before he gets to the bullpen. Signing Aaron judge, Anthony Rizzo, and finding a left fielder are at the top of his wish list, so the bullpen will have to come later on. Luckily, the team has a few younger pieces to rely on moving forward — Marinaccio and Greg Weissert.
Marinaccio finished the 2022 season with a 2.05 ERA, 11.45 strikeouts per nine, and an 81.3% left-on-base rate over 44 innings. He has one of the best change-ups on the team and possibly in the entire league, which is something the Yankees can build around.
Weissert, on the other hand, finished the season with a 5.56 ERA, but after he found his groove late in the campaign, he went four consecutive games without giving up a hit, showcasing the quality the team expects from him in 2023.
Clearly, the bullpen has assets, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees will stop there. Expect Cashman to be scouring the market for Holmes-type of steals — players that come at a cheap price point but are mismanaged and have quality tools.