Yankees lose key bullpen arm for 4 weeks

yankees, ian hamilton
Apr 3, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Ian Hamilton (71) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees proudly feature one of the finest bullpens in baseball, claiming the second-best ERA in the MLB at 3.04. Despite an array of injuries impacting the unit, the Bombers persist in discovering reliable assets to bolster a flagging starting rotation.

However, after Domingo German’s ejection during this past week’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Aaron Boone was compelled to use Ian Hamilton earlier than expected, which unfortunately led to a groin injury.

Hamilton had to leave the game prematurely due to a right groin issue and is expected to be out of action for the next four weeks, thereby leaving the bullpen depleted and understaffed.

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The Yankees will sorely miss Ian Hamilton:

So far this season, Hamilton has been one of the team’s most impressive performers, posting a 1.23 ERA and a 2.31 xFIP. His rate of 12.27 strikeouts per nine innings is one of the highest figures on the roster, and his 57.1% ground ball rate ranks among the top percentages in the bullpen.

Over 22 innings this year, he has significantly surpassed his previous season performances, benefiting from an increased velocity of 96.1 mph and a potent slider.

In fact, Hamilton uses his slider 53.3% of the time, having rechristened it the “slambio,” an intriguing hybrid of a slider and changeup. This season, the pitch has achieved a notable 40.9% whiff rate and a 29.1% put-away rate, striking out 23 batters and permitting just nine hits over 52 at-bats. Opposing batters have managed an average of .173 against it with a .212 slugging rate.

The loss of Hamilton at this juncture is exceedingly unfortunate for the Yankees, given his exceptional output. General manager Brian Cashman has done an outstanding job uncovering hidden gems like Hamilton, reminiscent of his acquisition of Clay Holmes in 2021.

Fortunately, the Yankees appear to have a knack for extracting significant value from pitchers who aren’t traditionally successful, with the most recent case in point being Ryan Weber. Boone has heavily relied on Weber lately due to injuries, and he has delivered three consecutive performances without conceding an earned run.

It is hoped that the Yankees will weather the storm until Hamilton’s return. In the interim, they should be buoyed by the comeback of Tommy Kahnle, who began his rehab assignment this week.