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4 horsemen

Much has been made recently of the relative struggles of the Yankee pitching staff.  Sure, it’s nothing in comparison to what Texas is going through, but the Yankees are still waiting on Andy Pettitte to return from injury, for one of AJ Burnett or Javier Vazquez to find some semblance of form and earn the fourth spot in the rotation in the playoffs, and for Phil Hughes to right himself after recent struggles.  Additionally, both Damaso Marte and Alfredo Aceves are out for the year.  On the offensive side, the club is also battling through injuries.  Nick Swisher has a noticeable limp and a deep bone bruise in his knee, Austin Kearns has a bruised hand, Jorge Posada has concussion symptoms (but has been cleared to play, thankfully), and Francisco Cervelli has been diagnosed with an awful case of not being a very good baseball player and deserving to be demoted or at least rarely get playing time.

Yet perhaps lost in the shuffle is the excellence of the Yankee bullpen, a bullpen which is shaping up to be a formidable weapon in October.  With the acquisition of Kerry Wood, the Yankees now have four very solid pitchers able to close out games, not counting Mariano Rivera. Since the All-Star Break, here are their numbers:

Boone Logan, LHP: 16 innings, 0.55 ERA, 10 hits, 4 walks, 19 strikeouts.

Joba Chamberlain, RHP, 23.2 innings, 4.18 ERA, 22 hits, 7 walks, 22 strikeouts.

David Robertson, RHP, 21 innings, 1.25 ERA, 13 hits, 11 walks, 30 strikeouts.

Kerry Wood, RHP (since coming to the Yankees on 7/31): 16 innings, 0.54 ERA (1 earned run), 10 hits, 10 walks, 20 Ks.

Of these four, Yankee fans can be most happy about Boone Logan and Kerry Wood.  Both came to the team with huge question marks.  Logan throws hard but struggles with command.  Wood has been an incredibly successful pitcher at times, but can’t stay healthy.  Yet both have performed about as well as anyone could have anticipated.

As a result, the Yankees have four legitimate set-up options for Joe Girardi to play with in the playoffs.  Better yet, there is currently no predetermined setup man.  This means that each reliever can be utilized as the situation demands, and that higher leverage situations will be handled by the appropriate reliever. There are some obvious usage patterns that have developed thus far, though. Logan’s primary purpose is to retire left-handed batters, and he’s performed superbly, holding them to a .188/.278/.219 line. Girardi also seems to prefer using Robertson when there are runners on base, possibly because Robertson’s ability to get strikeouts is so incredible (10.91 K/9 in 2010).  Additionally, he seems to trust Wood more than Chamberlain at this point.  However, this hasn’t meant that Chamberlain has been relegated permanently to the 7th inning, and Wood to the 8th.  Instead, he seems free to bring in Wood in higher leverage spots, whether it be the seventh or the eighth.  Often times, he will let Wood pitch the 8th as well, or go to Chamberlain for lower-leverage spots.  It could just be a small sample, but it does appear that Girardi favors Wood in the higher leverage spots, regardless of inning.  This is how a bullpen should be managed.

Despite the loss of Marte and Aceves and the relative struggle of the early-season 8th inning man, Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees’ bullpen is in a good position headed into the playoffs.  They have four relievers peaking at the right time, and it will enable Girardi to have a shorter leash with some of the more unstable starters.  It’s almost frightening, actually, like handing a 16 year old the keys to a Porsche and telling him to keep it under 90 mph.  Girardi has the tendency to play the matchups in the bullpen, and sometimes it blows up in his face.  But it’s a good problem to have, really, and it could prove to be one of the Yankees’ strongest weapons this playoff season.  And I haven’t even mentioned the Greatest of All Time, #42.

For the record, yes, I did try to make the title as obnoxiously over-the-top as possible.  Feel free to use it and turn it into a meme.  Also, the Photoshop is courtesy of me.

12 Responses to “The Four Horsemen of the Apoca-pen”

  1. lets hope girardi does not do a torre and burn some of these guys out before the postseason..he should use the other horses in the stable somewhat more..albie et al  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    Girardi has proven one thing very clear in his time with the Yankees and that is he the 100% opposite of Torre when it comes to handling a pitching staff and bullpen and I for one am very thankful of that. Joe seems to find a place for everyone in the pen and when he has a chance to let a Mitre/Mosley/Gaudin type go 3-4 IP in a blowout he always does and saves the guys we really need for more important games, however the biggest difference is the fact that Girardi actually trusts his starting pitchers and allows them to go 7-8 innings on nights they are capable of it, Torre was always quick to pull a starter on fear they would blow the game before Mo and thus you have the 2004 season.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Good evening T.O. Chris…after watching girardi melt again in these pressure games do you still think he is a good manager? i hope you reconsider..Mo did not belong in this game tonight..no way he pushed him in a tie game on the road last night for two innings, this guy just has crippled mo and the pen.. i hope he goes away just like torre did..gaudin again boy what did see or did not see..he bunts on a 3 0 count? hits thames for kearns? this guy is off the reservation..last night he was brutal . worst part there is no way i can fall asleep after another collapse. this team coming in knew they were in trouble facing the yanks..  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    This is absurd. He’s crippled the pen? He’s done a great job building his pen each year as a manager. And using Mo after he threw 23 pitches is just fine. Joe wasn’t great last night, but he wasn’t awful either.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Good Morning Moshe..Absurd ? after the last two loses…Mo looked like rick ankil last night. what do we do today and the next series vs the rays?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    He’s not available today, he’ll be available against the Rays. And Mo threw 23 pitches the night before. He goes back to back all the time. Its no big deal, as Mo himself said.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    No big deal..Mo would not say it was a bad move or not answer the call to come in at any time..come on Moshe you know that..the proof is in his performance last night.. Girardi never should have used him in a tie game on the road..let alone two innings..This points to several issues.. a few more bats on the bench…another lefty in the pen.. sept 1 we should have been loaded up, giving guys some rest..or do we listen to michael kay’s mentality that the bus gets a bit too crowded..and also the locker room and dugout.. jeter needs to sit a few games..posada was not ready, so go make a move in the system..better to have a move to make than not a move..those kids in the minors are not better behind the plate than posada right now? he is brutal..god forbid there is a close play at the plate, he manages to fumble each and every throw ,he is the abreu of catchers, always was.. he throws out what %? these kids, montero included can not do worse ..he has worn cano out, now by pulling starters out in the fourth and fifth inning just about everyday ,that is not going to burn your pen out? sometimes a game has to be sacrificed to preserve the next few to get strong.. hughes should have been in the pen a month ago, the kid was wearing down..we have seen this year alone how many first time starters? bring some of the kids up .like nova give them a shot..better than watching vasques or burnett flame out..skip them a few starts ,javy is gone after this year, who cares what he says about himself, he stinks, SD is for him not the big stage..he did good in the pen..should have kept him there. OK Moshe unload..  (Quote)

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Im not going to unload. Just going to say that I disagree with pretty much every single thing you wrote here.  (Quote)

    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    By the way happy new year  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Hello!

    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

    I have added your site to my site.

    Please link my site to your site.

    Thank you!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. Im not going to unload. Just going to say that I disagree with pretty much every single thing you wrote here.  

    O.K.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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