The New York Yankees beefed up their bullpen on Thursday by signing free agent reliever Adam Ottavino to a three-year deal. The signing was first reported by Robert Murray of The Athletic.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 17, 2019
Jon Heyman of Fancred later added the exact numbers on the monetary amount of the contract.
Ottavino was one of the most coveted relievers left on the free agent market after his stellar 2018 season with the Colorado Rockies. He finished with a 6-4 record and a 2.43 ERA in 75 appearances out of the bullpen, while also sporting a whopping 112/36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
After the departure of David Robertson to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yankees were looking for another strong, dependable arm to handle the 7th and 8th innings before handing the ball off to their closer, Aroldis Chapman.
Ottavino excelled as a set-up man with the Rockies in 2018, holding opposing batters to a paltry .158 batting average against him. His numbers are even more impressive than most given the fact that he had to pitch at Coors Field, which is almost equivalent to pitching on the moon, for most of the season. He pitched 34 innings at Coors Field and posted a 2.10 ERA while holding opponents to a .124 batting average at that ballpark. Historically, pitchers have struggled mightily to keep the ball from flying out of the park in Denver, so Ottavino’s dominance at a venue like that really lends credence to the fact that he is one of the top relief pitchers in baseball.
Another quality to Adam Ottavino that makes him such an attractive option out of the bullpen is his ability to pitch in virtually any situation. Ideally, most relievers prefer to come into a game for what is known as a “clean inning”, meaning there are no outs and there is nobody on base already. When pitching a clean inning in 2018 Ottavino held batters to a .150 batting average and only allowed three runs against the 148 batters he faced in those situations. Numbers like that are to be expected from a reliever the caliber of Ottavino.The New York @Yankees beefed up their already potent bullpen by inking Adam Ottavino to a three-year contract on Thursday afternoon. @ColouroftheIris has more.Click To Tweet
The more impressive sample comes from what he did when faced with a situation in which there were runners in scoring position. In those situations, he held hitters to a .147 batting average, and with runners in scoring position and two outs he held opponents to a .091 batting average. This shows that Ottavino is the type of pitcher who can come into any situation out of the bullpen and be extremely effective.
When long-time Yankee David Robertson signed with the Phillies, the team knew that they had to try to replace him by finding another dependable right-hander for the later innings. Dellin Betances is a great young talent, but he has shown inconsistency and wildness throughout his time with the Yankees so far. Ottavino, much like David Robertson, is more of a reliable, steady veteran that can help take some of the pressure off the younger Betances.
The New York Yankees have, once again, established themselves as having the best bullpen in the American League. It is no hyperbole to say that the signing of Ottavino has put the rest of the league, including their hated rivals and defending World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox, on notice. The Yankees still have a powerful and dangerous offense, and now they know that if they have a lead late in the ballgame then the advantage belongs to them. The combination of Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman is the definition of a shutdown bullpen. They may even add to that arsenal should they find a way to bring Zach Britton back for the 2019 season.
The only thing that Ottavino may have to answer for is his claim that he could strike out Babe Ruth every time he faced him. Yankees fans might have some questions for him about that one.