NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning during Game One of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Tigers 9-3. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Well, it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out, at the old ballgame. With their acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, from the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Yankees, already with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in tow, sport the most lethal bullpen trio in the sport. Only three relievers topped 100 strikeouts in 2015 and they now reside in the back of the Yankee bullpen. The trio combined for 347 Ks and a 1.70 ERA across 212 2/3 frames. On paper, this may stand to be the best combination of relievers, when it comes to velocity and stuff.
How do they measure up? Let’s take a look at some nasty bullpen combos in Yankee history.
Mariano Rivera, Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton (1997-2000):
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of Ramiro Mendoza with these three but Mo, Nellie and Stanton nailed down the big outs on three straight World Series winners. During that stretch, Rivera notched 160 saves, leading the AL with 45 in 1999, while finishing third in Cy Young Award voting. The side-arming Nelson was tough on right-handed batters, fanning 222 across 219 frames. Plus, the lefty Stanton was also a workhorse, during that time frame, Stanton appeared in 273 games and whiffed 273.
Yes the two were teammates in 1995 and the 1996 bullpen featured a lot of talented specialists but this was the duo that season. Wetteland was an All-Star and saved an AL best 43 contests. With four saves against the Atlanta Braves, Wetteland was named World Series MVP. Rivera was the Yanks best weapon that season, finishing third in AL Cy Young Award voting. The “Sandman” worked a lot of tough two-inning outings and struck out 130 batters across 107 2/3 innings.
“From Cy Young to sayonara in one year.” The famous Graig Nettles quote could apply to Miller but hopefully not yet, if past is prologue. While Lyle won the 1977 AL Cy Young, the Yankees would bring Gossage aboard in 1978. While Goose struggled early, he was still an AL All-Star, leading the league with 27 saves and 55 games finished. Gossage also 122 batters in 134.1 innings. Gossage tossed six flawless frames against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Fall Classic. From the left side, Lyle went 9-3 and tossed 111 2/3 innings.
Mariano Rivera, Tom “Flash” Gordon, Paul Quantrill (2004):
While I’m loathe to reference anything from 2004, “QuanGorMo” coupled with a potent offense, bridged the Yankees to the postseason. Of course they were exhausted by the time they reached the playoffs (perhaps a lesson for the currently constructed staff) but they were outstanding. Mo was an All-Star, finishing third in AL Cy Young Award voting and ninth in AL MVP voting. Mo also set career highs with 74 games, 69 games finished and 53 saves. Gordon was also an AL All-Star, appearing in 80 games, going 9-4 with a 2.21 ERA and 96 Ks. Quantrill appeared in a league high 86 contests, posting a ledger of 7-3 with a 4.72 ERA.
Although the two were teammates from 2008-2013, the 2011 campaign stands out the most. That season the 41-year-old Rivera was an AL All-Star, finishing eighth in AL Cy Young voting, posting a 1.91 ERA and 44 saves. Meanwhle, “Houdini” was also an AL All-Star, finishing eleventh in AL Cy Young voting. Robertson posted a ledger of 4-0 with a career best 1.08 ERA, fanning a career high 100 batters, across 66 2/3 frames.