The Yankees bullpen was absolutely dominant throughout 2019, but which relievers had the most impressive season coming out of the pen?
Coming into the 2019 Season, the Yankees were expected to have five amazing relievers. It ended up being four guys that were to be named “the four horsemen”. Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman. Here is a grade for each of them:
Aroldis Chapman: A
Aroldis Chapman had an amazing season for the Yankees, besides giving up the homer to Altuve. This season he pitched to a 2.21 ERA and had 37 saves and stuck out 85 batters in 57 innings. Chapman also moved from mainly a one pitch flamethrower, to a two pitch fastball-slider combo.
Chapman’s use of his slider is what made him the best reliever in the AL this year. Hitters hit only .159 off of his slider all year. After an up and down 2018, Chapman has shown that he is still one of the best closers in baseball. Chapman also pitched extremely well in the postseason. Everyone will just point to the homer he gave up in game six of the ALCS, but besides that Chapman was untouchable in every other situation. He was awarded the Mariano Rivera award at the end of the season which is given to the best reliever in the American League.
Zack Britton: A
Zack Britton quietly had an amazing season for the Yankees in 2019. This year he pitched to a 1.91 ERA and struck out 53 batters in 61 innings. Like Chapman, Britton also started to throw his slider more and that is what you can really point to in what made him so successful this year. Batters only hit .033 off of his slider this year. Britton also was lights out in the postseason this year, only giving up 1 run in 8 innings. I think it is safe to say that his ankle is healed.
Tommy Kahnle: B+
The real Tommy Kahnle showed up in 2019 after a disastrous 2018 where he looked like he forgot how to pitch. In 2019 Kahnle pitched to a solid 3.67 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 61 innings. Kahnle was a rock in the bullpen all year but did slow down a bit towards the end of the regular season. In the postseason Kahnle was good, giving up only 2 runs in 8 innings and got out of some big jams in the ALCS. I think we all are happy that the real Kahnle is back.
Adam Ottavino: B
If this was a report card on the regular season Adam would have received an A, but it isn’t. For the 2019 regular season, Adam pitched to a 1.90 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 66 innings. He was almost untouchable all regular season but then when the calendar turned to October and the playoffs began, he forgot how to pitch.
In the ALCS alone, Otto had a 11.57 ERA. Overall in the postseason, he gave up 4 runs(3 earned) in 3.1 innings and walked 3 batters. Who knows what would have happened if he didn’t give up that homer to Springer in game 2. Overall, it was very disappointing to watch Ottavino in the playoffs especially after he had such a great regular season.