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The Yankees bullpen is starting to turn it around

After an inconsistent start, the Yankees super-bullpen seems to have found their groove of dominance.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After re-signing Zack Britton and adding free agent Adam Ottavino, the Yankees somehow entered the season with an upgraded bullpen yet again. This is the third straight year in which the Yankees boasted what is most likely the best relief crew in all of baseball.

Now, on paper, that’s certainly what one would think looking at the stats from these arms over the past few years. Each pitcher wields an arsenal that should only exist in a Wiffle ball game. Whether it’s Ottavino’s slider, Britton’s sinker, or Dellin Betances’s knuckle-curve, it’s just not fair for batters.

Right from the get-go, though, things sort of fell out of place. Betances hit a setback in spring training that has kept him out all year. Up until recently, it seemed like the bullpen couldn’t be relied on without Betances. Out of the three to four relievers coming in on a day-to-day basis, certain guys would have good appearances, and other just wouldn’t have it that day. Leads. or games. would get blown in the process.

As the season has gone along, however, each reliever has found his groove, and it’s on full display. The series finale against the Mariners may have been the cleanest performance out of the bullpen all season. Aaron Boone unleashed the three-headed monster (minus Betances) of Kahnle, Ottavino, and Britton to keep the Mariners bats quiet. They did exactly that.

Allowing only one hit over four innings of work, while striking out four batters in the process, the Yankees relievers took their team through the back half of the game unscathed. It was a pleasure to see, as at one point earlier this year, you may have just been waiting for one of them to implode.

It didn’t stop there, as the Yankees took on the Tampa Bay Rays, maybe the best team in the American League, on Friday. This three-game set has been perfectly set up to determine the early division leader. With each team sending out their “ace” of the year so far, it was a big matchup.

Starting in the sixth inning in a 4-3 game, Boone once again rolled out his bullpen in an attempt to protect Domingo German’s one-run lead. Kahnle was the first to enter, getting three outs on ten pitches while striking out two. Next was Ottavino, who ran into trouble by loading the bases with no outs. He used his wizardry to escape from the jam. The right-hander struck out the hot Tommy Pham in an eight-pitch battle, then got Ji-Man Choi to ground into a double play, pumping his fist as he left the field.

Britton followed that up with a scoreless, twelve-pitch inning. He struck out one and forced a a double play, transitioning the ball to Chapman in the ninth. The flame-thrower did his job, getting his ninth save of the year and putting the Yankees only a half-game out of first place in the division.

Sure, this is only two games, but fans seem to take those one or two bad outings and let them stick for weeks. Kahnle and Ottavino have now both pitched to a sub-two ERA. In fact, over the last 30 days, Kahnle hasn’t allowed an earned run — making him one of. if not the best, relievers in the American League during that span. Britton on the other hand whose numbers aren’t through the roof, has pitched to a 2.53 ERA in the last 30 days.

Every once in a while, a reliever might just not have it, even the best of them. So ease up on the bullpen. These guys are indeed what the stat sheets say they are. None of them are perfect, but at times, almost all of them can be pretty close.