Looking ahead to 2014: The Bullpen

David Robertson 4

Previously, we looked at the Yankees current 2014 infield while adding the newest addition to the infield, Brian McCann. Today, we’ll go to the bullpen and look at the holes the Yankees need to fill in there. Here is the current Yankees bullpen:

David RobertsonLast season, Robertson was the eighth inning man, setting up for the greatest closer in baseball Mariano Rivera. Going into 2014, Robertson could either have one of two jobs. He could continue being the eighth inning man or he could move into the closer role now that Rivera has retired. Yankees fans are torn about whether to let Robertson close and even the Yankees front office won’t say if they’ll give Robertson a chance, but it couldn’t hurt just to let him try. Remember, Rivera blew saves when he first started closing, until he got the hang of it. I’m not saying Robertson is going to be the next Mariano Rivera, but I believe he at least deserves a chance at the job.

Shawn KelleyFor the most part, Kelley was a reliable asset to the Yankees bullpen but like most of the players in 2013, he broke down by the time it was September. Before September, Kelley was very impressive, especially when it came to strikeouts. Kelley K’d 71 in 53.1 IP. The  71 strikeouts (worth nothing) were a career high for Kelley. I fully expect to see Kelley back in the Yankees bullpen in 2014, but not before beating multiple relievers out for the job in Spring Training.

Preston ClaiborneClaiborne had his moments during 2013 where he looked absolutely brilliant. You would think that he could be the Yankees next big star from the bullpen. He seemed cool, calm and collected despite 2013 being his first year in the majors. However Yankees fans (and Claiborne) were hit with a dose of reality when he too faltered in September. Despite Claiborne’s season ending pretty badly, I believe the Yankees have something in him and they should give him a closer look in Spring Training in 2014. I mean sure, he was there in Spring Training in 2013 but the Yankees had their eyes on other minor league relievers, Mark Montgomery being one example. Claiborne needs to have the coaching staff’s undivided attention–and Joe Girardi has to stop leaving him out on the mound for two innings. He’s a one inning pitcher.

Adam WarrenWarren is a tossup here. He could either been in the bullpen or he could be in the starting rotation (we’ll elaborate on that in the next article). Warren did a great job in the long man role, going 3-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 77 IP. He did so well, he might be considered for the fifth rotation spot in Spring Training, but he’d have to battle his good friend and teammate David Phelps to get the job. For now, it’s uncertain where Warren will end up but I do predict he’ll either be in the bullpen or in the rotation–not in Triple A. 

Overview: The Yankees have a lot of holes to fill in the bullpen. For one thing they might need an actual closer to back up David Robertson if Robertson is unsuccessful. I still believe Robertson should close but a backup plan never hurt. The Yankees also need a lefty specialist. I’m still a little baffled that the Yankees haven’t made an offer to Boone Logan let alone called him. He said he wanted to be back and personally I want him to come back. I wonder if the Yankees have someone else in mind. The Yankees could also use a couple more relievers to give the bullpen some depth. What was once the strong point of the New York Yankees is now the position with the second most holes to fill.

Verdict: The bullpen needs dire help if they want to be able to shut down games like they have in years past.

Next Time: In the final installment of the “Looking Ahead to 2014″ articles, we’ll take a look at the starting rotation. 

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13 Responses to Looking ahead to 2014: The Bullpen

  1. Bobby says:

    Sign Nathan. Proven winner and a NY Guy. Keep DROB as the 8 th inning guy. He's not proven in the 9th, Keep'em where he's dominant. Let Logan go. Develop Cabral or look for a junk ball thrower as a lefty.

  2. budseligblows says:

    Do you have any statistical evidence of Claiborne doing much worse in his second inning of work Delia? Going through his game logs doesn't exactly scream "one inning only". Its not like his workload increased in 2013 so I'm wondering what you're basing this off of.

    • mlblogsnewyorkyankees13 says:

      First half of the season Claiborne gave up 6 runs, second half of the season he gave up 15. If you would recall during the games, when Girardi would put Claiborne in for the first inning, the first inning he'd be lights out then the second inning is when the opposing team would hit him. It's basic observation from watching the games.

      • budseligblows says:

        Instead of looking at first half and second half, why not break it down to games where he pitched more than one inning? Using his spilts merely points to him either winding down (won't assume that since his innings didn't jump), or him getting figured out.

        You can find his game logs at fangraphs if you're interested in viewing his multi inning games vs one inning or less.

      • budseligblows says:

        Looking closer, Claiborne gave up 16 runs pitching one inning or less, and 7 runs when going more than one run. He started off on fire, letting up one earned in his first fifteen appearances. Conversly, he gave up nine earned in just four of his appearances in September, none of which were more than one inning, shooting his ERA up nearly a run and a half.

        This is of course not a huge sample size, but his problem wasn't going more than one inning…he just melted down over four straight games.

  3. HateSelig says:

    Claiborne wasn't exactly "Lights Out"

    He pitched OK at best in pressure situations.

    • budseligblows says:

      He had a 1.46 ERA through his first two months in the majors….he was pretty damn good. He also held a sub 3 mark up until his four game trainwreck in mid september. Not bad for a rookie most fans had never heard of.

      • HateSelig says:

        Now get me his stats in pressure situations.

        Pitching with a lead 7th inning or later.

        ERA Plus, Strikeout to Walk Ratio.

        Another stat that goes unnoticed is % of inherited runners scored.

        • budseligblows says:

          Feel free to go to B-ref or fangraphs and look them up under splits. In a one season sample his OPS against was lowest in high leverage situations. He went on to allow 6 of 32 runners to score…now compare that with league average.

  4. @Jim_Catfish says:

    Hi Delia, i for one think that Robertson should be our closer, no ifs, ands or buts. And don't you believe that the Yankees and Boone Logan haven't been talking.

  5. tom says:

    Dellin Betances will win the closing job. Why the hell Not?

    In all seriousness, all I care about is Yankees should stay with in-house relievers always.

  6. Fernando says:

    Lot of arms in minors. Betances, Cabral, Herndon, Nuno, Montgomery, Whitley, Burawa, Kahnle, etc.