Now that Aroldis Chapman has been suspended 30 games by Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees bullpen will be without one-third of their “three-headed monster” for the start of the 2016 season.
Last season, the Yankees bullpen ranked 16th in ERA at 3.70 and fourth in opponent batting average at .232. They certainly have the potential to be the best bullpen in recent history, and can provide a much-needed cushion for their unstable starting rotation.
CLOSER: LHP Aroldis Chapman
(2015: 4-4, 1.63 ERA, 33 saves, 15.7 K/9)
The 6’4″ southpaw from Cuba is lethal, with fastballs that break 100 MPH regularly and a slider that will leave hitters looking foolish. Chapman has the poise and the demeanor to be one of the best strikeout relief pitchers of all-time; he has recorded 546 strikeouts over 319 innings pitched, for a career K/9 of 15.4.
Chapman is entering the final year of the six-year, $30.25 million contract he signed with the Cincinnati Reds back in 2010. With 146 career saves and an ERA of 2.17, Chapman is set to hit the open market after the 2016 season.
SET-UP: LHP Andrew Miller
(2015: 3-2, 2.04 ERA, 36 saves, 14.6 K/9)
Last season, in his first year as a full-time closer, Miller outperformed his expectations. He signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Yankees in 2015, and he certainly has lived up to that contract thus far.
Miller started off the 2015 season on fire, completing eight saves in as many opportunities during the month of April without allowing an earned run. In fact, Miller didn’t blow a save until August, after going the first four months of the season perfect. Look for Miller to get the ball in the ninth until Chapman returns from his 30-game suspension.
SET-UP: RHP Dellin Betances
(2015: 6-4, 1.50 ERA, 14.0 K/9)
Betances is a native of Brooklyn and grew up a Yankees fan. The Yankees selected him in the eighth round of the 2006 amateur draft with sights on him becoming an elite starter. Things did not work out as planned, as Betances struggled mightily in the minors as a starter and the Yankees were left with no choice other than to try him out of the pen.
Betances made his major-league debut in 2011 but appeared in just two games. He spent all of 2012 struggling with command with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 2013, he was called up again and apperared in only six games, allowing six earned runs in five innings pitched.
Betances broke onto the scene in 2014, pitching 90 innings and recording an ERA of 1.40. He is now considered one of baseball’s best when it comes to non-closer relief pitchers and is ready to continue building his legacy in 2016.
Whether this bullpen goes down as one of the best of all-time remains to be seen, but it certainly ranks as one of the most interesting storylines going into the 2016 season.