Best Bullpen? Yankees may have that as they prepare for spring training

Best Bullpen? Yankees may have that as they prepare for spring training
By Chris Saunders
Months of trying to acquire a third bullpen piece to help ease the pressure on Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller finally happened when the Yankees obtained Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati  Reds for quartet of minor league prospects. The Yankees exchanged third baseman Eric Jagielo (ranked 9th in the Reds top thirty), second baseman Tony Renda and right handers Caleb Gotham and Rookie Davis, ranked 8th.
Outcome for Yankees
Chapman, 27, is arguably baseball’s best relief pitcher, but he comes with significant off-field baggage in the form of domestic violence allegations. It was those allegations that ultimately prevented a trade to the Dodgers from being finalized earlier this offseason. There’s a very real chance that he’ll serve some form of suspension meted out by Commissioner Rob Manfred under Major League Baseball’s newly implemented domestic violence policy.


What type of suspension is up to Manfred, though as many have pointed out, there are service time implications in any suspension that could impact Chapman’s free agency. If Chapman misses more than 45 days of the regular season due to suspension, he’ll fall shy of reaching six years of Major League service, which would prevent him from becoming a free agent next winter.


Now strictly looking at Chapman’s on-field resumé, the stats are astounding. In 2015, he worked to a 1.63 ERA with 15.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 37.1 percent ground-ball rate. Over the past four seasons in Cincinnati, the Cuban-born phenom has delivered an exceptional 1.90 ERA while averaging 16.1 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine innings to go along with an average of 36 saves per season. Chapman,a left-hander  known for his blistering fastball, averaged 100.3 mph on his heater in 2014 and followed that up with a similarly incredulous 99.5 mph average this past season.


With the acquisition of Chapman, the Yankees now have three of the top 5 strikeout percentage leaders from the 2014-2015 season. Chapman (46.3 percent), Miller (41.6  percent), and Betances (39.5 percent). What Brian Cashman, Yankees GM, is accomplishing is simple. The team ranked 19th in starting rotation, 12th in American League in ERA due to a depleted pitching rotation. Masahiro Tanaka suffered a partial UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) tear in his pitching elbow and C.C. Sabathia struggled with knee injuries. Michael Pineda had continued shoulder problems; once needing surgery and missed two years.


Nathan Eovaldi is a hard thrower, averaging 96.7 MPH on his fastball, but health has been a question mark his entire career. Twenty-one year old rookie Luis Severino was the Yankees lone consistent and healthy starter who was dominant while throwing no more than 161 2/3rd innings in his first season. For the Yankees, having the three-headed monster of Chapman, Miller and Betances will help shorten games which in some way cancels out what looks like a shaky starting rotation.

Comment Chris Saunders:; Twitter:@C_Broadcaster; Saunders

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