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James Pazos could be an integral part of the Yankees' bullpen

While the Yankees have a historic backend of the bullpen, there are still question marks elsewhere. Lefty James Pazos has impressed in the minor leagues, and he looked good in his brief stint in the majors. If he can put it all together, he could play a vital role in the bullpen this season.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

James Pazos didn't arrive to the major leagues with much hype. When Greg Bird and Luis Severino were promoted to the bigs, they both came with the top-prospect labels and high expectations, and rightfully so. Both were ranked as top five prospects in the organization and were/are expected to be impactful players. Pazos, however, was not seen on many top prospects lists and wasn't a name commonly known to the fans. So, when owner Hal Steinbrenner slapped the untouchable tag on the lefty this past trade deadline, it came as a surprise to many.

Pazos got the call up to the bigs in September, and although he only pitched five innings, he showed signs that he'd back that untouchable tag up. In his five innings, he allowed three hits, three walks, struck out three, and most importantly, he didn't allow a single run. The sample size was obviously small, so there's reason to be skeptical. However, when you consider his career numbers in the minors, the stuff he has, and the current state of the Yankees' bullpen, it becomes apparent that Pazos could play a vital role this season.

Pazos, 24, has impressed at every level of the minors. In his career 184.1 minor league innings, Pazos has posted strong numbers. He has a 2.29 ERA, over a strikeout per inning, .204 BAA, and has allowed just four home runs. His control isn't excellent, but it's not horrific. He's walked 68 batters, which is more than one walk per three innings, but that isn't terribly high, and he does still have a 2.9 K/BB, so it doesn't seem to be a huge problem.

The numbers are impressive, but it's backed up by his good stuff too. The lefty has a fastball that sits around 93-94 MPH with some sinking action, and a slider with solid movement. He's a big guy, standing at 6'3'' and weighing in at 230 pounds, making him an intimidating presence on the mound.

The Yankees will need Pazos to make good on his potential this season. The backend of the bullpen could be the best in baseball history, but they'll need help elsewhere. When the Yankees get a lead late in the game, they should be able to close the door with the trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. However, the problem last year, and it could be this year too, is when they have to go elsewhere in the bullpen. This is keeping the game close when they're down, keeping a lead if the starter gets knocked out early, or putting up zeroes in extras.

The Yankees were 66-3 when leading after six innings last season, 23-24 in one run games, and 4-9 in extra innings. (Thanks to fellow writer Harlan Spence for the last two stats). Having the trio they do will obviously make the bullpen better as a whole, but won't necessarily address some of the problems the bullpen faced last season. The Yankees will need to get solid performances from more than just Chapman, Miller, and Betances.

The rest of the bullpen is filled with question marks. Chasen Shreve was great for most of the year, but struggled later on, posting a 13.50 ERA in September. Bryan Mitchell has potential, but needs to work through his command and consistency issues before he can be considered a reliable arm. Then, there's the revolving door of relievers that came through last season including Nick Rumbelow, Branden Pinder, Nick Goody, and others, but none have proven that they can be dependable.

This is why Pazos is so important. Nobody will rely on him to be the closer, or even a set-up man. If he can parlay his very good minor league numbers, intimidating presence, and promising duo of pitches into being a reliable reliever, he will play an important role in the Yankees bullpen.