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How can the Yankees expand on playoff bullpen strategies?

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Joe Girardi’s bullpen holds enough weapons to make an unprecedented impact.

MLB: New York Mets at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, bullpens have become the focal point of postseason baseball. Several teams have developed super-bullpens to lock down a game after five or six innings. The most recent example can be found in last year’s Indians squad, which Brian Cashman helped build by trading Andrew Miller.

The southpaw became the next step in utilizing playoff bullpens, as manager Terry Francona brought in Miller whenever the game threatened to get out of hand. He didn’t wait lock the relief ace into specific innings. This frequently led to Miller appearing in the sixth and seventh, becoming the bridge to closer Cody Allen and setup man Bryan Shaw despite being the best pitcher among the three.

Fast forward to this season, and the Yankees find themselves in a scenario where they can take the template that Cleveland built and expand upon it. For much of the season, the Yankees have struggled to lock down a definitive closer. Aroldis Chapman has struggled to miss bats at the rate that he is accustomed to and missed time due to injuries. Dellin Betances has also dealt with command issues that have prevented him from getting into a long term groove, and help was nonexistent early in the year.

A midseason trade to reacquire David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, as well as the promotion of Chad Green to trusted back-end arm, have widened the options considerably for Joe Girardi. Robertson has thrived in his return to the Bronx, and has been used similarly to how Miller was when he arrived in Cleveland. Since the trade, Robertson has appeared in the seventh and eighth inning nine times, and the ninth five times. His success in pinstripes shows he’s capable of performing the fireman role.

The flexibility of the bullpen doesn’t stop at just one elite arm however. Green has also thrived in a loosely defined role, and he has arguably had the best season of all the Yankees’ relievers. Green’s 99 strikeouts and 0.73 WHIP in 64.1 innings show that he has come to dominate when his name is called. He has consistently entered and thrown bullets, despite not having the triple-digit velocity to throw right by people.

Having Robertson and Green both on hand to bail out an ineffective pitcher works to another benefit as well. In a playoff series, Girardi can consistently ask one of the two to enter in the fifth or sixth inning to relieve a starter that lost steam. That would keep the other ready to relieve Betances or Chapman if their aforementioned location problems surface. The options are limitless.

Cleveland revolutionized the bullpen by having a stellar reliever available at any point in the game. The Yankees can take it a step further by having two arms fit to jump in at a moment’s notice and restore order. What do you think of this strategy? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comment section below.