With all the hype surrounding the bullpen heading into 2011, there certainly has been no shortage of disappointing news at times. Joba Chamberlain was placed on the disabled list back on June 8 with a torn ligament in his right elbow that required the infamous Tommy John surgery. There's also that amazing former closer named Rafael Soriano that has been anything but good this year, experiencing an injury of his own that has sidelined him for weeks. If you haven't heard, Soriano won't have any trouble feeding his family with the amount of money he's being paid, either (3 years, $35 million).
In the absence of two major bullpen pieces behind Mariano Rivera, the Yankees have actually done very well. While I wouldn't consider the bullpen to be the strongest in baseball or the best part of this team, they're still not a weakness by any stretch of the imagination.
This bullpen is headlined by a kid from Tuscaloosa, Alabama named David Robertson. He's heading in the same direction as Rivera in terms of spoiling New York fans. His K/9 rate of 14.22 is straight up remarkable. Let's be honest, 59 strikeouts through 37.1 innings of relief this year is absolutely incredible. Despite the fact that he walks way too many batters (BB/9 is 5.23), he's flawlessly escaped nearly every jam he works his way into. He's accountable for a 1.5 WAR this season, good for third best amongst relievers in baseball behind Craig Kimbrel (2.1) and Sean Marshall (1.7). Also, batters are yet to hit a home run off of him. High Socks for Hope must be motivating him to be his best all the time.
Boone Logan has held his own. Despite harsh criticism every time he enters the game, he's put together slightly better peripherals this season. His K/9 is 8.63, much better than his 7.65 career average and his BB/9 is down to 3.38 compared to his 4.09 career average. His HR/FB rate has decreased and his LD% remains on par with his career average (17.9% / 18.1%). Logan's xFIP could be the best of his young career and he's compiled a 0.3 WAR. In all fairness, despite him being LOOGY, he's been serviceable.
Luis Ayala is an interesting one. His K/9 and BB/9 are worse than his career averages, yet his xFIP is decent enough at 3.99. Ayala has only surrendered one home run through his 28.1 innings. He's induced a tremendous amount of ground balls this year at 54.9% and line drives against him are way down at 15.9%. His WAR is 0.3, just like good 'ole Boone Logan.
I'm a huge fan of Cory Wade. 11 strikeouts in 13.1 innings of work for the Yankees is very solid work. The only two runs he's allowed came on a two-run home run against Cleveland. I like the way he equally mixes in his curveball and changeup behind his fastball. Unfortunately, an 89 mph fastball will get crushed if he misses his spots. Jury is still out on him, but he could be valuable down the stretch. His WAR sits at 0.2.
Hector Noesi has been everything the Yankees could hope for out of a long reliever. I can't imagine it's easy to go from routinely pitching to being called upon every once in a while, but he's adjusted well. Out of his 30.1 innings for the Yankees, 28.2 of them have been brilliant. The one exception was a 1.2 inning outing against the Cincinnati Reds in which he allowed six runs on eight hits. His 20 strikeouts and 10 walks are both decent and he keeps the ball in the park. What I don't like to see is a LD% of 26.6% and that's about it. Noesi's been good for a WAR of 0.3.
Here's where things get a bit stressful. Sergio Mitre should never come close to touching a Yankee uniform again. He's been a terrible pitcher ever since the beginning of 2010. His HR/FB rate in 2010 was actually 21.7%. Of all the times I've looked at Fangraphs for guidance, I have never seen such a ghastly HR/FB rate. Mind you, he pitched 51.2 innings which isn't exactly a small amount. Hopefully he gets healthy without a problem, but he should be employed elsewhere.
Statistically speaking, Amauri Sanit and Rafael Soriano have been the worst relievers thus far for the Yankees. Yes, even worse than the ultimate mop, Lance Pendleton.
Mariano Rivera has been, well, Mariano Rivera. Not much needs to be elaborated on here.
Overall, the Yankees have received some quality innings from their relievers this year. Despite the apparently abundance of mops out there, they've served well.