Yankees nearing return of triple-digit velocity bullpen arm

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Nick Burdi (57) works out during spring training practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ bullpen has been exceptionally effective this season, boasting the lowest ERA in Major League Baseball at 2.27. They have secured 16 saves, surrendered only 32 earned runs, and maintained a WHIP of 1.09. Their success includes giving up the second-fewest homers in the league and consistently inducing weak contact, a testament to the strategic prowess of pitching coach Matt Blake.

Yankees’ Bullpen Excellence and Upcoming Reinforcements

Despite their success, the Yankees have not heavily invested in their bullpen, which makes their performance even more noteworthy. They are currently missing three key relievers—Tommy Kahnle, Scott Effross, and Lou Trivino—all of whom are expected to return in the coming months. This will further bolster a bullpen that has relied on fringe roster players while awaiting the recovery of these crucial arms.

MLB: New York Yankees at Arizona Diamondbacks, nick burdi
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Burdi’s Return Adds Depth

The Yankees are set to welcome back relief pitcher Nick Burdi, a 31-year-old veteran who has been recovering from a hip injury. Before his stint on the injured list, Burdi made seven appearances, pitching 6.1 innings without allowing an earned run and maintaining a 0.00 ERA. His fastball, which averages about 98 mph, has helped him achieve a high strikeout rate of 11.37 per nine innings, although he has struggled somewhat with control, walking 7.11 batters per nine.

Burdi’s pitching arsenal, featuring a four-seam fastball and a slider, has proven formidable. Opponents have managed a mere .063 batting average against his four-seamer, which also boasts a 30.6% whiff rate and a 28% put-away rate. His slider, which averages 87.6 mph, has allowed a .200 batting average against and generates 21% more horizontal movement than average, resulting in 10.3 inches of break. This exceptional movement makes his pitches nearly unhittable when properly located.

Despite his injury history, Burdi is viewed by the Yankees as a significant asset when healthy. His return will undoubtedly provide a valuable boost to an already strong bullpen, enhancing the team’s capacity to contend deep into the season.

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