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How the Yankees Built the Deepest Bullpen in Baseball

Starting pitching success has been the talk of the Bronx this season for the New York Yankees, but their bullpen has arguably been just as dominant. As of June 11, the ERA for Yankee relievers sits at 3.06, which is third-best in all of MLB. Even beyond counting stats, the Bombers seem to have an endless supply of relievers that can neutralize any opponent. From fireballers like Clay Holmes and Nick Burdi to veterans such as Michael Tonkin and Tommy Kahnle, the Yanks bullpen is stacked with reliable pitchers worthy of a World Series-caliber team.

But what’s most impressive about the Yankees pen is actually how it lacks star relievers. Rather than having a multitude of high-end relievers, New York’s bullpen mostly consists of middle-of-the-pack guys whose successes are a result of the Yankees’ knack for cultivating pitching talent. It is for this reason that the Yankees boast one of, if not the best bullpen in baseball.

Behind the Dominant Yankees Bullpen This Season

Impressive Finds

The most interesting part of the Yankees bullpen is that most of their current relievers are not homegrown. The only exceptions to this are Ron Marinaccio and Jonathan Loaisiga, the latter of whom is out with a torn UCL. Most notably, Clay Holmes and Ian Hamilton are diamonds in the rough that Brian Cashman and Co. have turned into solid back-end guys.

The former emerged as one of baseball’s top closers after being traded to New York from the Pittsburgh Pirates. With 2024 being his third full season as a Yankee, Holmes’ career in the Bronx has been tumultuous at times, but otherwise dominant. In 184 innings since 2021, Holmes has a 2.30 ERA with 199 strikeouts. He also has an ERA+ of 329 this season, along with 19 saves in 22 opportunities.

But Holmes isn’t the only one who the Yankees have transformed into a formidable weapon. Ian Hamilton, Luke Weaver, and Michael Tonkin were all brought in and have proved to be valuable inning-eaters. Pitching coach Matt Blake and his staff deserve a lot of credit for creating a top-tier bullpen out of formerly average pitchers.

Injury Woes

Not only is the pen good now, but it has the potential to get even better later on this season. The ongoing issue of who the odd man out in the rotation will be may have to be solved by moving someone to relief duty. As of right now, it looks like either Luis Gil or Clarke Schmidt will lose their starting job. Schmidt is currently rehabbing after a lat injury, and won’t be back until later in the season. As for Gil, the Yankees may give their fiery right-hander some time in the pen so as to not overwork him.

They also have a good handful of relievers currently on the IL. Scott Effross, JT Brubaker, Lou Trivino, and Nick Burdi are all currently working their way back to the mound. When they return, the Yankees’ relief squad will be that much more daunting to opposing teams.

Talent From Within

As if the Yankees’ pitching depth couldn’t get any better. The Bombers have some legitimate pitching prospects who are inching their way closer to the majors. Big names include Chase Hampton, Will Warren, and Clayton Beeter. Beeter actually pitched in the first game of the year for New York, throwing a three-pitch inning. With all of this pitching depth, the Yanks could potentially use them as leverage for a big-name reliever near the trade deadline.

Potential Acquisitions

One thing this bullpen lacks is lefties. With Wandy Peralta‘s departure, Caleb Ferguson and Victor Gonzales stand as the only southpaws out of the pen, so the Yankees definitely want to acquire a solid lefty. Though this isn’t a necessary hole to fill, the Yankees will likely look into some options. Potential names for the Yankees to target include Jake Diekman, Tanner Scott, and Taylor Rogers.

Diekman has struggled with the New York Mets this year. However, he is almost unhittable against lefties, so he could be a good matchup option for Aaron Boone. Scott has been one of baseball’s best lefty relievers recently, so the Marlins could want a substantial package in return for him. As for Rogers, his $12 million contract is not desirable, but he is a former All-Star who could serve as a closer in case Clay Holmes proves to be too inconsistent.

The Last Word

The Yankees bullpen isn’t just good because of a few players: it is one of the best because it works together as a unit. Every reliever is capable of giving good innings to a team that could use them later down the stretch. The Yankees’ management knew what they were doing when constructing this team, because like every other part of the team, the bullpen has proven one of the most dominant in baseball.


Photo Credit: © Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports


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