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Mar 192010

Yankee Stadium Bullpen

Putting together a truly complete pitching staff is a hard thing to do for any major league team, even the Yankees. Hell, getting five men together to form a rotation is hard enough. Luckily, the Yankees seem to have more than five guys who could be in a rotation. In fact, the Yankees’ fifth best and sixth best starters might be the third or fourth best starters on other teams.

Of course, I’m talking about Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. The one who doesn’t fill the fifth starter role will likely be in the bullpen (even if I don’t want it to happen, but I’m assuming my “wish” won’t come true). It’s safe to assume that the non-starter will be the last brick in the “Bridge to Mowhere”, and be the designated-eighth-inning-set-up-whatever man.

That leaves five more roles to be filled in the bullpen (assuming a 12 man pitching staff and a 13 man “lineup”). Who will fill what roles? Let’s discuss, shall we?

Long Men/Spot Starters:
There are legitimately three guys who could fill this role, and if you wanna get frisky, four (Jophil Chamberhughes could do long relief to get more innings. Wouldn’t that be a mind blower?). The three are Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre, and Chad Gaudin. Something tells me that the Yankees won’t keep all three of these guys around. Aceves’ spot is basically guaranteed. So, that leaves Gaudin and Mitre. The latter has pitched relatively well in Spring Training but it’s unlikely he can succeed in the bullpen. Maybe Mitre is better than he showed in 2009, but I have a feeling that his time with the Yankees is running thin. Chad Gaudin’s ability to occasionally miss bats may play better in relief. Of course, this means Sergio Mitre would be exposed. He’s out of options and, despite my doubts, he’d likely be claimed on waivers. Perhaps, though, the Yankees could work out a trade with some team (probably an NL one).

Now we’ve got 9 pitching spots filled (five starters, Chamberhughes, Ace, Gaudin) so that leaves three more, and the choices are obvious.

The lefty will be Damaso Marte. He appears to be fully healthy and ready to contribute as the great lefty reliever the Yankees thought they were getting in 2008. I’m not saying he’s going to be as lights out as he as in the ALCS and WS, but he’ll be a lot closer to the 130 ERA+ guy he’s been for his career than he will be to the mediocre pitcher he’s been in his time with the Yankees.

Chan Ho Park is another guy who could pitch multiple innings/spot starts out of the bullpen, but could also do well in a one-inning reliever role. The latter role is likely what he’s going to do, though he and Chad Gaudin could flip places and no one would really notice.

Lastly, we come to my favorite Yankee reliever (non-Mo division): David Robertson. I absolutely love this kid. Maybe I’m way too high on him, but I think this dude is certainly the real deal. His two pitch combo is absolutely perfect for a short reliever and it doesn’t hurt that his curveball is just devastating. While everyone thinks that either Chamberlain or Hughes should be “groomed” as the “heir” to Mariano, I think it’s Robertson who should be getting that treatment. I’ll re-state it: I’m really high on this guy and we obviously need to see him keep it up for a full season, but I think this is one guy in whom we can believe.

So, that’s it, 12 men to lead the Yankees on the mound. Here they are, listed by (my projected) role:
SP1: CC Sabathia
SP2: A.J. Burnett
SP3: Andy Pettitte
SP4: Javier Vazquez
SP5: Jophil Chamberhughes

LRP: Alfredo Aceves
LRP: Chad Gaudin

MRP: Chan Ho Park
MRP: David Robertson

LOOGY: Damaso Marte

SU: Jophil Chamberhughes

CL: Mariano Rivera

12 Responses to “Examining the Bullpen Roles”

  1. Chan Ho and Robertson would be good in the jam-call role and as the eighth inning reliever, leaving jophil to do medium-long mopup, to better gain experience with all their pitches, I’m thinkin’.  (Quote)

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  2. Sorry to be a wet blanket but, I don’t really like the idea of having the loser (Joba/Phil) in the BP.
    I want them working on and using all their pitches at all times…use them or lose them! Both guys need to work on their pitches, and become complete pitchers. How do you do that in the BP?
    We will need both of them in the rotation next year, BP will slow one of them down.
    Robertson, Park or Melancon will fit the set-up roll just fine.  (Quote)

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  3. Totally agree about D-Rob, K-Rob, whatever. He’s a monster. If he can cut down on the walks, he could become the best reliever in the league not named Rivera.  (Quote)

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    Kevin Ocala, Fl Reply:

    Remember he’s only pitched what amounts to basically few innings. Let’s not annoint him quite yet…  (Quote)

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  4. I’d keep Melancon and send one of Hughes or Chamberlain down to AAA to start. Use Robertson as the set up guy and Melancon in the middle relief role.  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    That’s what I want, too but it’s not going to happen.  (Quote)

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  5. YOUR RIGHT ON MATT HES A STRIKE THROWING MACHINE WHICH IS WHAT MAKES DAVID THE MOST LIKE MO….HIS CONTROL IS WHAT MAKES MARIANO MARIANO  (Quote)

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  6. In regards to all the hysteria in baseball in the media about baseball staff “roles” and how the so-called “Verducci effect”.

    If Mitre wins the fifth spot, what’s the big deal? This notion that guys have to have “assigned” roles in bullpens is crap. Earl Weaver believed that the proper way to develop young arms was to use them as long-men and/or spot starters. Funny how he always seemed to have starters who had long, fine careers. The worst that could happen, Mitre takes the fifth (sorry about that), gets a few starts in May and makes the season, in effect, shorter for Hughes/Chamberlain.
    One other thing. This so-called “Verducci effect” started off about 15-20 years ago that pitchers and catchers who were heavily worked before the age of 24/25 had shortened careers. He believed (I think with conversations with doctors and his data) that the cartilage wasn’t fully developed until then. Hope I didn’t get carried away… One last item, baseball is becoming a sport where I feel as though I need to go back to college to refresh myself in stats. If baseball can truly be quantified by stats then Stephen Hawking would be a GM.  (Quote)

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    smurfy Reply:

    I strongly agree with you and Weaver, Kevin, on the use of the bullpen to develop starters, let them gain experience with the new level of hitters in shorter samples. Nothing wrong with organizing roles, as long as both management and players are flexible about it. The pitching coach needs a fine touch to get them up early, but not too often. And you have to have enough reliable relievers so noone gets overused.  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    I would’ve liked it a lot more if, when in the bullpen, Chamberlain and Hughes had done the long relief thing, but we all know that’s not going to happen. The way bullpens/pitching staffs are constructed, there is no need for more than one long man. I’d love for us to go back to the relief ace days when guys closed out games for 2-3 innings routinely, though. Those would be ideal situations for young pitchers with innings limits.  (Quote)

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    smurfy Reply:

    Yeah, Matt, 2 -3 innings is great exposure for a young guy. Then give him 2, 3 days rest to let the arm recuperate. With starters typically barely getting out of the fifth inning nowadays, and especially if mgmt wants to lighten the load on last years big innings-throwers, there will be plenty opportunity to spread the innings around.  (Quote)

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    DaveinMD Reply:

    We could do this if we Chamberhughes like Torre used Mo. Every appearance should be at least two innings, with some being three. Otherwise, Chamberhughes needs to be in the minors to get the innings they need to be starters next year.  (Quote)

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