Yankees need more from newly acquired bullpen arm

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees emerged victorious by the skin of their teeth on Wednesday evening at the Toronto Blue Jays. Sneaking out a 6–4 victory in the 9th inning certainly wasn’t how the Bombers hoped to close a three-game series, the first series defeat of the 2024 season. They currently sit 13–6 on the season, only half a game over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East but still sporting the highest winning percentage in baseball.

Unfortunately, the Yankees’ pitching has been volatile over the past few weeks, especially with injuries to the bullpen taking hold.

In fact, one of their newer relief arms, Caleb Ferguson, is still trying to find his groove, having made eight appearances and pitched 7.2 innings this season. He currently has a 5.87 ERA and 8.75 xERA (expected ERA), watching his strikeouts per nine dip to 8.22. He also has a 65.2% left-on-base rate and a career-low 37.5% ground ball rate.

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In other words, Ferguson has been a liability for the Yankees, raking in the 2nd percentile in barrel percentage, walking 5.87 batters per nine, and allowing 2.35 home runs per nine. Unfortunately, opposing batters are dominating his four-seam fastball, which averages 93.8 mph and has average movement across the board.

The Yankees Need Ferguson to Produce More

The lefty needs his fastball to pick up the pace since his cutter is dominating over a 24.6% sample of pitches thrown. His cutter is averaging 88 mph with a 28.6% whiff rate and 48% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher.

Ferguson has used his cutter primarily against right-handed batters, a pitch that moves inward and creates deviation with his four-seam fastball.

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Unfortunately, the fastball just isn’t locating how he wants, giving up two earned runs over one inning against Toronto on Wednesday. The Yankees’ offense managed to pick up the slack, but they had a few spotty moments out of the bullpen late in the game.

With the team still waiting on Lou Trivino, Scott Effross, and Tommy Kahnle to return from injury, they need players like Ferguson to step up and carry their weight. Otherwise, they have to dip into their pool of talent at the Triple-A level to help stifle any inconsistencies.

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