Michael King and Luis Severino’s returns have breathed fresh life into the Yankees bullpen. There have been times this year when the bullpen looked like it was an unlikely weakness
The big guys
Zack Britton was hurt, struggled, and then got hurt again. Aroldis Chapman started the year being unhittable, but then regressed to a point where he wasn’t even the closer, and now he’s getting back to his true self. And while Chad Green has been solid overall, he recently had a horrendous stretch where he was giving up huge, game-costing home runs left and right.
The bright spots
So who have been the more consistent bright spots? Jonathan Loaisiga for one. He has always had electric stuff but has never been able to put it all together. He had a solid season last year with a 3.52 ERA in 23.0 innings, but he was not an elite reliever. This year, he has been elite, to the tune of a 2.25 ERA in 68.0 innings. His win probability added this year has been 2.91, good for seventh overall among all relievers. He also has a crazy 191 ERA+. But he also recently was hurt with a rotator cuff strain, but thankfully return from the injured list for last night’s game.
The other bright spots are guys who weren’t here to start the season. Clay Holmes (1.44 ERA in 25.0 IP) and Wandy Peralta (3.12 ERA in 40.1 IP) have been dynamite for this bullpen. Here are their ERA+ before and after coming to the Bronx:
Back to King and Sevy
But I’m here to talk specifically about what King and Sevy have added to this bullpen. Especially now with Jameson Taillon probably out for the rest of the year, the length that King and Severino can provide is paramount. King can give you at least two to three innings, and Severino can likely give you another two. Sure, they can’t pitch every day, but with the way the postseason schedule works, you have an off day every two or three games.
If you look at the starting rotation, only Gerrit Cole is a sure bet to be able to give you six or seven innings.
Other guys such as Nestor Cortes, Jordan Montgomery, and Corey Kluber all can pitch well, but realistically how many innings can you get out of them? Four or five? Aaron Boone probably won’t try to push them a third time through the order. So if you could, for example, have Nestor pitch the first four innings, you don’t necessarily have to worry about burning out your bullpen because someone like King can give you three innings to bridge the gap to the late-inning relievers. Then you only have two more innings left to cover! You can use Holmes and Chapman and still have Green and Loaisiga completely fresh for the next day.
So you could essentially piggyback Nestor and Monty with King and Severino and get a good six or seven innings. This allows there to be less pressure on the quartet Holmes, Loaisiga, Green, and Chapman having to routinely get more than three outs. And Wandy’s there too!
Of course, in the playoffs you could have some relievers who are pitching better than others. Maybe Loaisiga doesn’t look the same coming back, although he dominated on Wednesday night. But with Taillon (not anymore) and Domingo German not having a real chance to build themselves back up for the postseason, King and Severino give you real multi-faceted weapons out of the pen. And they have to be an upgrade as a piggyback over J.A. Happ, right?