Other than inconsistent hitting from the lineup, the New York Yankees deficiency that caused them another early exit from the postseason in 2020 was lousy pitching. The Yankees haven’t had really good starting pitching quite a while. Yes, they went out and got the best pitcher available in 2019, but that’s really all they had. The rest of the pitchers were bluntly tired veterans that couldn’t go deep into games. That put added stress onto a bullpen that was also deficient.
The simple fact is that the Yankees must improve their overall pitching if they have any hope of a postseason play or even winning the division that was taken away from them this last season by the Tampa Bay Rays, who had excellent pitching. The Yankees have got to realize just how vital the bullpen is in this era of pitchers generally not going deep into the game. You rarely hear of a complete game anymore. And the Yankee starters were worse than most. Only Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia went more than 5 1/2 innings. And Cole only went 6.08 innings.
Being super critical, the 2020 New York Yankee bullpen flopped. With the loss of Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery, the one loss seemed to break the back of the bullpen. Even in the short season, the bullpen was overworked. Besides the loss of Kahnle, they might have well lost Adam Ottavino because he was terrible. Cessa was Cessa; he didn’t lose a game and even got a save. Loaisiga didn’t lose a game either and even improved his ERA by a full point. Being overly harsh, Chapman sucked again, losing the final game of the postseason for the second year in a row.
The only real bright spot in the bullpen was Zack Britton; he was brilliant, saving eight games in Chapman’s absence after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kahnle has signed with the Dodgers, and Jonathan Holder has signed with the Cubs. With a very doubtful rebound of Adam Ottavino the bullpen has been most gutted. The Yankees need two dependable and consistent arms to be added.
There are 80 availble relief pitchers on the free agent market with out considering those available via the trade route. The New York Yankees certainly are able to find two to help them out. They have two methods of filling the void, one a closely path and the other going on the cheap to fill holes. The top names are obvious, Hendriks, Hand, Yates, Bradley, Osuna, Colome, and others. But there are also some good arms that won’t cost the Yankees an arm and a leg.
The addition of Aaron Loup would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look the the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays.
Loup, after a regressive tenure in Toronto, found his best stuff with the Rays in ’20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He’s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldn’t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.
Staying with Lefty relievers, Andrew Chaffin could be an interesting addition to the Yankees bullpen. Chaffin is equally as good at getting right-hand and left-hand hitters out. In four games with the Chicago Cubs last season he gave up just one run for an ERA of 3.00. He also struck out more than 9 hitters over nine innings. He also would be a low cost addition to the bullpen although more expensive than Loup. He would likely cost the Yankees somewhere around $2 million.
The Yankees could do worse than signing Ryne Stanek. He had a horrible 2020 season, so he might be able to be gotten on a steal. Stanek began his career with the Rays, who chose him 29th overall in the 2013 draft, and had his best seasons with the club. He was a regular opener with the Rays from 2018-19, during which he pitched to a 3.17 ERA/3.64 FIP and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He is the only righty on this list.
There are several free agent relief pitchers out there that a very familiar with as they have pitched for the New York Yankees before. The most notiable one is David Robertson. Robertson is the not the reliever he once was but is very serviceable and we know he can pitch under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. Others include Chasen Shreve, Tyler Clippard (3 stints), Mark Melancon, Ian Kennedy, David Phelps, Nick Tropeano, and Luis Avilán. As I have said in a previous article, I am not against giving David Robertson another go at the Stadium.
The best thing for the Yankees to do in this writers humble opinion is get a big name like Hendriks or Hand to replace Kahnle and a lefty like Aaron Loup to add a dynamic mix to the right hand heavy Yankee bullpen. But it appears that the Yankees will be waiting to make any significant moves until the see if they can resign DJ LeMahieu. Hopefull all the good arm relievers won’t be gone by then.
EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam. Photo accompanying the article is of Aaron Loup.