Analysis

The Yankees Have a Bullpen Problem

Between injuries and ineffectiveness the past few days, the Yankees seem to have a bullpen problem. How can they fix it?

Another week, another roller coaster for the New York Yankees. If this feels like it’s becoming a theme, well, it is. From August 5-9, the Yankees went a lowly 2-5, losing games in both Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. The Bombers answered back, though, winning six games in a row, sweeping the Atlanta Braves in a brief two-game set and the Boston Red Sox in four. Lastly, the Yanks dropped seven straight to the Rays, Braves, and Mets over the past week-and-a-half, but have won their last three with exhilarating victories on Saturday and Sunday. Through all these ups and downs, however, one thing remains consistent: injuries.

We all know about the lingering calf injury to Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu’s thumb sprain (who returned this weekend), among others that have gone down with ailments. Having said this, the Yankees have taken big hits to their biggest strength this season, that being the bullpen.

What Went Wrong?

The Yankees had a problem in the bullpen prior to the start of the season when closer Aroldis Chapman was shelved after testing positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, Chapman has returned to close out ballgames in the Yankees’ bullpen, but through his three outings, he’s been shaky, to say the least.

In just 2.0 innings of work, Chapman has allowed three runs, all earned, while surrendering three hits and walking a batter, including a blown save on Friday night against the Mets, where he allowed a walk-off two-run home run to Amed Rosario. Albeit, the blown save came after 11 days in between appearances, so that definitely may have been a factor. Regardless, the Yankees have bigger issues in the pen besides just Chapman’s slow start.

Tommy Kahnle, one of the longest-tenured stalwarts in the ‘pen, went down after just one appearance with Tommy John Surgery, ending his season abruptly. Furthermore, Zack Britton, who produced abundantly for the Yankees in the closer role filling in for Chapman, was put on the IL on August 20 with a hamstring strain. It’s also worth mentioning that Chad Green, who started his season on fire, hit a few snags the past few days. Despite his dominant performance in the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets on Sunday, Green allowed five runs in 2.0 innings in his previous two outings combined, including five hits and four home runs.

Will the Yankees get Help?

With the trade deadline being on August 31 at 4 P.M., the Pinstripers will almost certainly look for reinforcements to patch holes created by injury or ineffectiveness. Expect most of these targets to be pitching, with the Yankees being linked to big names like Cleveland Indians’ ace Mike Clevinger and Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen stud Josh Hader, according to Jon Heyman.

Regardless of how big the names are, however, the Yanks are in use of some serious help. If the Yankees don’t reel in any big names by tomorrow afternoon, expect the Bombers to at least make some under-the-radar moves to shore up the team, particularly the starting pitching and, quite frankly, a suddenly thin bullpen.

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