With the retirement of Mariano Rivera and the loss of Boone Logan, the Yankees bullpen is in for some serious turnover in 2014. For the first time since 1997 (minus a good portion of 2012), the team will have doubts about their closer. Worse than that, they don't have many options set in stone at the moment, so most of the bullpen will have to be figured out during spring training. If I were in charge of the Yankees, this is how I would put it all together:
Closer: David Robertson
2013 Stats: 66.1 IP, 2.04 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 10.45 K/9, 2.44 BB/9
Robertson is clearly the best man for the closing job. He's fixed his control issues and has been one of the best relievers in baseball for the last few seasons. For me, it doesn't matter whether he has closing experience or not, the best pitcher gets the most important job.
Setup Man/Fireman: Shawn Kelley
2013 Stats: 53.1 IP, 4.39 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 11.98 K/9, 3.88 BB/9
Kelley is my setup man, at least to start the year. Yes, he struggled in the second half, but if he can come close to his first half numbers then he'll be great. I would also try to use him as a fireman whenever possible, bringing him into tough situations in order to get a strikeout.
Left-Handed Specialist: Matt Thornton
2013 Stats: 43.1 IP, 3.74 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 6.23 K/9, 3.12 BB/9
Honestly, for a left-handed specialist I would have probably gone with an internal option, like Cesar Cabral, over signing Thornton to a two-year deal. There's a lot to worry about with him; his numbers have been declining for a few years now and he has a history of arm injuries. At least the Yankees are lucky enough to have backup options, however unproven, in case he can't make it through the season.
Longman/LOOGY/Middle Reliever: Vidal Nuno
2013 Stats: 20.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 4.05 K/9, 2.70 BB/9
Nuno would be an excellent part of the 2014 bullpen. He can start, he can relieve, and he's a lefty, so he could really be used to do just about anything. I would make him the longman to start the season because Adam Warren really wasn't that impressive last year and maybe Nuno can be more useful.
Middle Reliever/Second Longman: David Phelps
2013 Stats: 86.2 IP, 4.98 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 8.20 K/9, 3.63 BB/9
If the Yankees can't have a strong bullpen, they can at least have a versatile one. I don't think Phelps will be much of a starter, but I think he can be useful in the bullpen. Phelps could excel as a middle reliever, and could even make his way to the backend of the bullpen. Having both Phelps and Nuno would also allow Nuno to be moved around. If he's needed to get a lefty out one night, Phelps can step in for a few innings the next night. If someone goes down, they have two options to replace him with.
Middle Reliever/7th Inning Guy: Dellin Betances
2013 Stats (AAA): 84.0 IP, 2.68 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 11.57 K/9, 4.50 BB/9
Brian Cashman's reveal that Betances has a fourth option for next year really hurts his chances of making the team this season. If it were up to me, I'd go with him anyway and he could serve as Girardi's 7th Inning Guy. This is his last chance to become somebody and I think with what he accomplished in 2013 he deserves a real chance over the relievers they signed and invited to spring training. In all likelihood, his spot will go to Preston Claiborne, but I think Betances has more upside.
Middle Reliever: Mark Montgomery
2013 Stats (AAA): 40.0 IP, 3.38 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 11.03 K/9, 5.63 BB/9
In a perfect world, Montgomery would make my team and by the end of the season he would be pitching in the back of the bullpen. Of course, after his disaster of a season this might be a long shot. If Monty comes into spring training in better shape then I think there's a strong chance the Yankees might use him. He would work in middle relief and, if the need ever arose, he could fill in for Kelley as the setup man. The more likely choice could end up being Chase Whitley, though.