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Yankees Bullpen: How to improve on a strength

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013 the Yankees bullpen has been the third best in baseball, accumulating 3.8 WAR in the first half of the season. They have a collective 3.27 ERA and 3.44 FIP, but one player doesn't fit in with the rest of the pack: Joba Chamberlain.

Joba has a 5.40 ERA and 4.95 FIP this season and opposing batters have hit .317/.397/.533 since he came back from the DL at the end of May. The Yankees have pushed hard to trade him, but he's more likely to be released than anything else, so teams are waiting to grab him for nothing. At this point the Yankees might be better off simply letting him go and bringing someone up who might actually have some value. The Yankees are unhappy with his attitude and he isn't performing, so there doesn't seem to be much point in holding onto him.

Releasing Chamberlain would open up a spot in the bullpen for Dellin Betances to finally show he has a place on an MLB team. Since moving to the bullpen, Betances has turned into a shutdown reliever, pitching to a 2.00 ERA and keeping opposing batters to a .168/.266/.264 batting line in 36 innings. It could finally be his time to make something of all his potential.

Preston Claiborne started off his career with a 0.61 ERA and kept opposing hitters to a .176/.176/.255 batting line in the month of May, but since then he's had a 4.20 ERA and batters have hit .290/.362/.419 off of him. In the last month he's been beat up by a .333/.415/.556 batting line against and lefties have teed off him to a tune of .300/.344/.367 on the season. Claiborne was never going to be a sub-1.00 ERA pitcher forever, but this goes beyond regression to the mean. Now he's getting rocked.

Releasing Joba would open up a spot on the 40-man roster and if the Yankees option Claiborne to Triple-A they could bring up another reliever that could offer better results. There's no one that immediately comes to mind with Mark Montgomery struggling with arm issues, but there are still some very viable options in Triple-A and Double-A that should at least be given a shot.

First on the list should be Francisco Rondon, a lefty reliever who has been through a whirlwind of a season. He was given a shot in the rotation and failed massively. After being moved to the bullpen his struggles continued until he was designated for assignment in late May. Since then has has a 1.35 ERA and has kept opponents to a .143/.250/.231 batting line. He was recently promoted to Triple-A and has kept left-handed hitters to a 192/.253/.288 batting line all season long. The 25-year-old should get a shot in the majors to see what he can offer the team going forward.

Besides Rondon, Sam Demel has pitched incredibly well in Triple-A the entire season, posting a 1.41 ERA, limiting hitters to a .185/.265/.286 line and striking out 10.7 batters per inning. Matt Daley has pitched to a 2.20 ERA and has kept hitters to a .138/.219/.293 batting line with a 11.6 K/9 in 16.1 innings at Triple-A this season. Chase Whitley, Tom Kahnle, and Dan Burawa are also potential call ups that could get a chance with the big league club.

With the weaknesses the Yankees have, they need to ensure that their strength remains strong and can maybe even get better.

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