Even after losing Chad Green, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Aroldis Chapman for a significant period of time, the Yankees’ bullpen remained (and remains) a top unit. But it’s not just the big names at the top, Clay Holmes and Michael King, driving the bus. The group has proven to be deep, too, and some of these depth pitchers stepped up when the team needed it the most.
I’m talking in particular about the JP Sears, the Miguel Castros, the Wandy Peraltas, the Lucas Luetges, and even the Albert Abreus of the world. It’s evident that Holmes and King are the Yankees’ best relievers and two of the best bullpen pieces in baseball. But the supporting cast has helped keep everything afloat even as injuries struck.
Chapman has just returned from an Achilles injury, Loáisiga could join him soon, and Zack Britton should be an option at some point in the second half. Green, however, is lost for the season. Despite not having those four for most of the season to this point, it’s nice to know that the Yankees have some reliable options to trust beyond them.
Sears has pitched most of his innings in Triple-A this season, where he has been nasty: 1.83 ERA in 39.1 innings, with 11.44 strikeouts per nine. In the majors? He has allowed only one earned run in 15.1 frames, and while the whiffs haven’t been there yet (nine punchouts), we have every reason to believe they will come eventually.
Miguel Castro was working on a four-game scoreless streak with a 1/7 BB/K ratio before being placed in paternity leave. With him, it’s all about control, and he has just three walks in his last ten appearances. For the season, his BB/9 rate is still high at 4.21, but he has made strides, and his 3.51 ERA in 25.2 innings indicates he has been a solid bullpen piece.
If you want to know who is the hottest Yankees reliever besides the untouchable Holmes, Lucas Luetge’s name pops up. His strikeout stuff seems to have returned: in his last six games, he has conceded just one run and has nine punchouts in eight innings. He surrendered just one earned run in June, and his season ERA is down to 3.04 with a 3.00 FIP.
Wandy Peralta has been extremely reliable all year long, even if he won’t wow anyone with high strikeout totals. He conceded just three earned runs in June, and all came in the same game. He was flawless otherwise, and is currently running a 2.08 ERA for the year in 30.1 innings.
Even Albert Abreu, picked up via waivers, has been effective when called upon. With the Rangers and Royals, he handed 16 bases on balls and struck out just 12 hitters, which is probably why both organizations decided against keeping him. The Yankees brought him back, and he has two walks and five strikeouts since, with no runs allowed. Much like Castro, throwing strikes is the key for Abreu’s success, and so far, he has made strides in New York.
The pitchers are the ones throwing on the mound, yes, and deserve most of the credit. But in many cases, their improvement was aided by the work and guidance of Matt Blake, Sam Briend, and the Yanks’ resources as a whole. The masterminds of pitching have struck gold again, and have helped talented but flawed pitchers to get the most out of their skills and to form an incredibly deep bullpen.
From now on, as the injured players return to the roster in the upcoming weeks/months, things will only get better.