The Yankees' bullpen seemed to keep the club alive last season (Doug reviewed the relievers who will likely back up the projected 2015 bullpen yesterday), but now that David Robertson and Shawn Kelley have gone elsewhere, what can we expect it to look like on Opening Day?
At this point in the off-season, really, it's tough to be too sure, seeing as not many in the group will have their roles decided until spring training. Either Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller will succeed Robertson in the closer role and David Carpenter should be somewhere in the mix as well, but besides that, the futures of everyone from Adam Warren to Esmil Rogers aren't too clear.
Indeed, many questions exist when it comes to the Yankees' collection of relievers, but that doesn't mean we can't still take a look at the current candidates. There are about eight of them, each of whom has been listed below.
1. Dellin Betances: Betances is coming off a great rookie year with the Yankees, having struck out 135 hitters while recording a 1.40 ERA in 90 IP. However, it was just his first full season, and he did that as a setup man, not a closer. So while it seems likely that his skills would translate to the ninth inning, it remains to be known for certain.
2. Andrew Miller: Miller signed a four-year, $36-million deal with the Yankees earlier this winter, and is no doubt a likable newcomer. His ERA the last two seasons has been sub-three, reaching as low as 2.02 last year. Again, though, he's never closed, so like Betances it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts if promoted.
3. David Carpenter: Carpenter came over from the Braves in exchange for Manny Banuelos on Thursday, and is expected to be one of the Yankees' setup men next season. He should be an upgrade over the aforementioned Kelley, with opponents having batted just .198 off of him in 2013 and .256 last year. Then again, Kelley's ERA with the Yankees was never lower than 4.39, so that's not exactly saying much.
4. Adam Warren: Warren started strongly but had a rocky finish last year, resulting in his ERA being a still-good 2.97. It's been speculated recently he'll be in the rotation next spring, but considering that Chris Capuano was signed to a one-year deal last month, that probably won't happen. He'll probably work seventh innings next season instead, in front of Carpenter but behind the long relievers.
5. Justin Wilson: Wilson, like Warren, primarily pitches sevenths, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. Wilson's numbers with the Pirates have been consistently solid since 2012, so don't expect the Yankees to alter his role much now that he's with them.
6. Esmil Rogers: After being acquired from the Blue Jays, Rogers was good with a handful of ugly outings during his time with the Yankees last year, resulting in a 4.68 ERA in 25 IP. He's a long reliever for sure, unless he really struggles in spring training and gets cut.
7. Andrew Bailey: Bailey won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2009 with the A's, but has struggled to stay healthy since. He'll be with the Yankees on a minor-league deal this March, and, if able to prove himself, should have some role with them come April.
8. Jacob Lindgren: Lindgren's a can't-miss prospect, but that doesn't mean he's going to be handed anything. He falls into the same category as Bailey: the perform-in-spring-training-or-stay-where-you-are category. As Doug noted, fellow relief prospects Nick Rumbelow, Dan Burawa, Chase Whitley, and others should be in the mix for a major-league job as well.
The team is likely to take seven relievers north when it leaves Tampa, so not everyone mentioned above will make it. Leave your own thoughts on the bullpen below.