After the Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman in a trade with the Reds, they said rather quick that they want to keep the bullpen together as it is. So with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman this would be a formidable backend of the Yankees’ bullpen.
But do the Yankees really want to keep the three together in the bullpen? Not too long ago, the Yankees were shopping Andrew Miller as they were looking for cheap, young MLB ready pitchers that they could control for a long time.
Can you keep three stud pitchers, who all recorded a 100+ K season in 2015, happy. Only one can be the regular closer. Chapman excelled in that role with the Reds and so did Andrew Miller with the Yankees. Betances already settled down in the set up role, but he also closed some games, during the absence of Miller.
Sure if the Yankees will keep these three in the back end of their bullpen it will be very exciting, but to get to that part of the bullpen, you need some decent/good starters too. And that is the Achilles Heel of the Yankees right now. Next to two good/decent starters in Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino, there are some question marks.
Masahiro Tanaka is good, no doubt about that. But I still fear that his elbow will backfire on him, resulting in season ending Tommy John surgery.
Then Ivan Nova. The 28-year old right-hander has shown flashes of briliance in the past. Even this season he showed some good stuff, but after coming back from TJ surgery he has not shown much of his old self. Eventually he went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA, a 1.40 WHIP. Perhaps the Yankees will sell Ivan Nova. According to Brian Cashman, he will be a full year removed from TJ surgery and most of the time pitchers start to get their control back in the second season after TJ surgery. If that is the case, his trade value may rise. Since Nova will be a free agent after the upcoming season, the Yankees may trade him away in an attempt to get something valuable back.
Will C.C. Sabathia show his old self? He started to pitch with a different mechanic to avoid pressure on his right knee. But that did not pan out very well. After he returned to his old mechanics, his numbers improved dramatically. But can he continue to pitch like that without injuring his knee even more? If yes, he will be a valuable part of the rotation. If not he will be a liability.
Michael Pineda also showed flashes of brilliance but eventually didn’t live up to the expectations with an ERA of 4.37 and a WHIP of 1.23.
By trading away Adam Warren to the Cubs, the Yankees lost a decent starting pitcher who could fill in the fifth spot in the rotation or could fill in as a spot starter when needed.
And even though Eovaldi and Severino performed well in their first season with the Yankees, it remains to be seen how they will perform in 2016. It won’t be the first time that a pitcher like Severino is hit by the Sophomore Jinx in his second season.
Perhaps the current rotation is good enough to last five/six innings per start, but I cannot imagine that the Yankees’ front office has changed its mind all of a sudden. Why else were they putting Andrew Miller into the shopping window? In November GM Brian Cashman colorfully characterized the situation as follows: “It doesn’t mean I’d do anything but if the Dutch never asked the Indians for Manhattan you’d be living in New Jersey.”
For now it is all up in the air and time will tell. But personally I expect the Yankees to make a move that includes Miller or even Chapman to land a young MLB ready pitcher.