The New York Yankees are a very good baseball club. They are probably not as good as their first-half version, which saw them post a 64-28 record. However, they are obviously not as bad as they were in July and August. They look like a 96-59 record, which is the equivalent of one of the best ballclubs in the American League.
The Yankees have several strentghs: two aces in Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes Jr., a rock-solid number three in Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and a strong offense as a whole. Defense is also a strength, especially with Harrison Bader in the fold.
The bullpen, however, has more question marks than answers at the moment. Chad Green and Michael King are injured and out of the picture, Wandy Peralta is also on the IL but expected to return soon, and Zack Britton and Scott Effross recently returned from their own physical ailments.
The Yankees bullpen needs to find consistency
Many of the remaining bullpen arms have had their fair share of inconsistencies along the road. Aroldis Chapman just isn’t trustworthy anymore, while Jonathan Loáisiga started the season poorly – but has righted the ship in recent outings. Clay Holmes had an otherworldly first half, then started to look human in the second.
The Athletic’s Jim Bowden analyzed the unit and identified it as the wild card when it comes to the Yankees’ chances in the playoffs:
“The Yankees bullpen lost Chad Green and Michael King to season-ending injuries, Zack Britton has only just returned from the IL, and Aroldis Chapman has been a disappointment. To me, the two main keys in their bullpen are Clay Holmes and Jonathan Loáisiga, who will need to have excellent early playoff games. The deeper the Yankees advance, the more important Chapman, Britton, Scott Effross, Lou Trivino, Ron Marinaccio, Lucas Luetge and Clarke Schmidt become. The Yankees are good enough to win their first World Series since 2009, but only if their bullpen lives up to its potential.”
Indeed, bullpen depth becomes more important the longer the playoff series are. The Division Series is played to a maximum of five games, and the Championship Series and the Fall Classic are best-of-seven matchups.
To have a real chance, those relievers Bowden named need to be at the top of their game. The Yankees bullpen had a 2.89 ERA as a group in the first half, which ranked second in the big leagues. After the break, however, the number increased to 3.24.
Will they be able to show their best version?