When the season began, the Yankees had two huge question marks, the bullpen and the infield. Now, almost a month later, there is only one hole remaining.
Of the eight pitchers currently in the Yankees’ bullpen, six of them are off to great starts (the other two have combined for only one outing). Only one of those six has an ERA over 3.00 (David Phelps).
The closer, David Robertson, has only appeared in five games because of an injured groin, but he hasn’t allowed a run yet this season, has only given up one walk and two hits, and has saved three games. From the moment Spring Training began, he’s faced questions about his ability to close and the pressure that comes with replacing the legendary Mariano Rivera and so far he’s responded beautifully.
When Robertson went down with a pulled groin, Shawn Kelley (the setup man) took over and saved four games in as many opportunities. Overall, he’s posted a 2.38 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and has struck out 12 batters in 11.1 innings pitched.
Adam Warren entered the season as a long reliever who was thought to have issues with consistency. Last year he sported a 3.39 ERA, which is good, but not with a 1.43 WHIP and a .268 batting average against. Those totals were quite high, but this year has been a different story. Now that he’s throwing harder, his ERA is down to 2.19 in 12.1 innings pitched, his WHIP is 0.97, and opponents are only hitting .182 against him. He seems to have taken over the seventh inning role.
Dellin Betances has been sensational. Though his walk total (7) is a bit high, he’s struck out 19 batters in 11.2 innings and only allowed 3 hits and 1 run for a 0.77 ERA.
The team’s left-handed specialist, Matt Thornton, has pitched 5.1 innings, and has only allowed one earned run and has struck out five batters, which isn’t too bad.
David Phelps has struggled at times, but he’s managed to hold opponents to a mere .217 batting average. He’s also struck out 16 batters in 11.2 innings.
The bullpen might add even more depth later this year if former Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey recovers fully from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him since July. J0el Hanrahan, who reportedly could pitch as early as June following Tommy John Surgery, has been scouted closely by the Yankees.
What was once thought of as a weakness has become a strength.