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Yankees' playoff bullpen has the potential to be dominant

Oct 5, 2010, 1:18 PM EDT

Andy Pettitte’s health and Phil Hughes’ second-half struggles give the Yankees’ rotation some major question marks after CC Sabathia, but New York’s bullpen may actually be underrated at this point.
Mariano Rivera’s late-season rough patch provides a bit of worry that he’ll be something less than his usual unhittable self, but I’m not counting on it. He’s both the greatest closer of all time and the greatest postseason pitcher of all time, finished his age-40 season with a 1.80 ERA, .183 opponents’ batting average, and 45/11 K/BB ratio in 60 innings, and becomes an even bigger weapon in the playoffs when multi-inning appearances are common.
Rivera looms as the ever present late-game hammer and his setup trio of Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood, and David Robertson is better than most people think. Chamberlain has a 74/22 K/BB ratio and just five homers allowed in 71 innings, which is good for a 3.41 xFIP that ranks eighth in the AL. Wood struggles with his control, but has been untouchable since the Yankees acquired him from the Indians on July 31, posting a 0.69 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings.
Robertson is the least-known of the bunch, but has a 3.44 ERA and 3.51 xFIP in 105 innings over the past two years, with his 11.44 strikeouts per nine innings leading the league during that time. In terms of top-to-bottom bullpen depth the Twins perhaps have an advantage, but teams can typically rely on just three or four relievers in the playoffs and New York’s foursome of Rivera, Chamberlain, Wood, and Robertson is as good and overpowering as any in baseball.

  1. Mr. Heyward - Oct 5, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Wouldn’t they have Burnett in there too? He may have sucked this year but putting him into 1-2 inning situations makes him a dangerous option in middle relief for opponents to face.

  2. Buccofan - Oct 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Every bullpen “has the potential to be dominant”, even the worst ones. It’s like using “may”, “might”, “can”, and “could” in a headline in that it means nothing.

  3. Buccofan - Oct 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Burnett is also a dangerous option for the Yankees and their fans. Look at the numbers, not the salary or the pre-season hype.
    At least he made the LDS roster, unlike Javy Vazquez.

  4. Mr. Heyward - Oct 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Like the Pirates “could” be a winning team, maybe one day?

  5. geoknows - Oct 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Yeah, considering that I have seen each one of these guys suck sideways as opposed to dominate, they also have the potential to be dreadful. Well, not Mo, he never sucks, but he has been known to blow a save here and there.

  6. - Oct 5, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Vazquez was left off because he just “sucks” in the American League. He’ll be on the Mets next year. Burnett may be able to help out of the pen. But you only see him if Hughes hits 100 pitches in the 5th (happend quite a few times this season). For 1 inning, Burnett might be alright.

  7. Pete leary - Oct 5, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Gleeman is dreaming. Twins in 5

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