Entering the 2018 season, the Yankees bullpen was set to be one of the strongest pieces of their team, but so far it has looked the complete opposite.
‘1-800-WE-BRING-THE-HEAT’ – A fantastic and incredibly executed commercial and marketing ploy that Yankees fans loved as it aired during spring training, regarding and featuring the Yankees bullpen arms that dominated nearly every lineup it faced in 2017, but hasn’t nearly looked the same this season thus far.
There was one thing all Yankees fans were nearly 100% sure of: This team’s bullpen is lockdown. Get the starters through five innings with the lead and the game is a wrap.
So far, this 2018 Yankees bullpen has looked far from what we had been hoping for. We’ve seen Tommy Kahnle lose three to four MPH on his average fastball, which is alarming, on top of the fact that he’s been completely unreliable this season so far.
We’ve seen the almost always reliable David Robertson look really good of late, doing his usual ‘Houdini acts’ out of seemingly impossible situations to get out of, but even he gave up a go-ahead grand slam to Justin Smoak on Easter Sunday putting the Yankees down three followed by a loss.
We’ve seen Chasen Shreve show glimpses of being an incredibly reliable, hard throwing lefty arm for the middle to later innings, but is he for real?
We’ve seen Chad Green have a couple of hiccups but return to his 2017 form of late.
We’ve barely seen Adam Warren this year, and he’s looked ultra pedestrian in those outings.
We’ve seen Aroldis Chapman show glimpses of the brilliance the baseball world knows he possesses, but tends to get in trouble and then fight his way out of it with his overpowering fastball.
But worst of all, we’ve seen Dellin Betances, the once COMPLETELY feared flame throwing reliever out of the Yankees bullpen, become less than a fraction of his old self. Dellin has looked lost for most of the second half of last season, the post-season, and the beginning of this season. Yankees fans hope and pray he can find it once again, and return to his old self.
I miss the old Dellin.
The always in control Dellin.
The nasty slurve Dellin.
The clutch Dellin.
I hate the new Dellin.
Always throwing wild pitches Dellin.
Can't hold runners on Dellin.
I used to trust Dellin.
Oh well, Dellin is Dellin. pic.twitter.com/FKjN22LzuR
— Patrick Hennessy (@TrueHennessy) April 7, 2018
But, fans should hold onto that initial feeling they once possessed about this bullpen. As this season gets underway more and more, it seems like some of the Yankees relievers are coming around, especially Green, D-Rob, Chapman and Shreve. Green has been his dominant self, striking out 13 batters in 7 innings of work.
Robertson has been his usual consistent self, allowing his only 4 runs so far this season in that one outing in Toronto, otherwise, he’s been dominant. Chapman looked untouchable in the Yankees first win in Detroit by completely and utterly over-matching the Tigers hitters. Shreve has been a pleasant surprise by being nearly totally unhittable so far, posting a 0.00 ERA in his 2018 campaign thus far.
Another arm that can provide depth, and help out of the pen, is rookie Domingo German, who has also shown glimpses of brilliance; and in his last outing, kept the Red Sox dangerous lineup completely quiet over his 3.1 innings of work.
Kahnle and Betances are the two arms whom I, myself am concerned about, and Yankees fans potentially should be as well. Kahnle has just looked bad for the most part so far this season, as he’s been really unreliable; and is throwing his fast ball at a high of 94-95 now, opposed to his 98-99 MPH heater in 2017. That definitely should worry the Yankees a little, but we’ll see as the season goes on if Kahnle can find his stride.
On the other hand, Dellin Betances is a really, really worry some issue for this Yankees club. A guy whom Yankees fans once felt like they could nearly sit back, put their feet up and watch Dellin shut down opposing hitters in the seventh or eighth innings; now has Yankees fans grinding their teeth in frustration from his struggles. Betances has an outing where he’ll strikeout three dudes on nine pitches, than have an outing where he gets absolutely shellacked.
Nobody is quite sure when, or how, or why he has been so off for so long, but Yankees fans hold on to the hope that he can snap back into his old form just as fast as he snapped out of it.
The bullpen hasn’t been the only pitching woes, with Jordan Montgomery blowing a 5-1 lead last week versus the Orioles and Sonny Gray making Yankees fans sweat out every single inning he throws, but if you don’t have a reliable bullpen, which the Yankees SHOULD have but haven’t for the early part of this season, you’re going to be sweating out every single game, all year.
If you ask me, I think the Yankees and this bullpen will be just fine. Holding onto the hope Kahnle and Betances find it as this season progresses; but with all of those other arms pitching well, and the Yankees still winning ball games in the early going despite some bullpen woes and injuries; keep your head high, hopes high and dreams big about this season, because your 2018 Yankees are going to have to continue riding this lineup and dominant bullpen to an October playoff run.