The New York Yankees have adopted a cautious strategy in the free-agent market, particularly regarding their bullpen selections. This approach has led them to miss out on some high-profile relief pitchers, as they weigh the cost against potential long-term value.
Yankees Exploring Familiar and New Options
Recently, Hector Neris signed a one-year, $9 million deal with the Chicago Cubs for the 2024 season. This contract includes incentives that could escalate to $23 million over two years. The Yankees, under General Manager Brian Cashman, decided against committing such a significant amount to a 34-year-old pitcher coming off his best season.
Despite this, the Yankees have shown interest in familiar faces like Wandy Peralta and Keynan Middleton. Additionally, Jon Heyman of the New York Post stated that the Yankees are considering Phil Maton, another bullpen arm from the Houston Astros, who has also had a standout season.
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Phil Maton: A Potential Fit for the Yankees’ Bullpen
Maton, a right-handed pitcher, recorded a 3.00 ERA over 66 innings in his latest campaign. He achieved an impressive strikeout rate of 10.09 batters per nine innings, coupled with a 75.1% left-on-base rate and a 42.9% ground ball rate. His postseason experience is notable, with a 0.83 ERA over 21.2 innings, showcasing his potential value in high-pressure situations.
Maton’s pitching arsenal, which includes a curveball, four-seam fastball, and sweeper, has been particularly effective. His curveball is his standout pitch, thrown 40.4% of the time last season, yielding a .169 batting average against, with a 36.4% whiff rate and a 27.3% put-away rate. This curveball is unique in its substantial horizontal movement, complementing its vertical break, and pairs well with his other pitches to create effective deviations.
With an increased use of his curveball and sweeper last season, Maton demonstrated adaptability and effectiveness in his approach. The Yankees, recognizing his potential, could further refine his pitch usage to optimize his performance, particularly in the postseason.
At only 30 years old and with a cost-effective potential signing, Maton emerges as an appealing option for the Yankees. His blend of skill, experience, and affordability makes him a name to watch in the Yankees’ pursuit of bolstering their bullpen for the upcoming season.