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How a short season could benefit Adam Ottavino

The New York Yankees signed Adam Ottavino to a three-year deal ahead of the 2019 season. Ottavino bolstered an already strong Yankee bullpen. His best pitch is his slider, which has ridiculous movement to it.

The right-hander was effective in 2019, pitching to a 1.90 ERA and striking out 88 in 66.1 innings. However, Ottavino was not good in the 2019 postseason. He failed to record an out in two of the three ALDS appearances he made. Then, Ottavino gave up the game-tying home run to George Springer in ALCS Game 2 before imploding in Game 3. Some people think the moment was just too big for Ottavino. But what if he was just out of gas?

The 2019 Yankees often failed to get length from their starters, thus forcing them to use their bullpen constantly. Ottavino made 73 appearances in 2019. It would make a lot of sense if he just didn’t have enough left in the tank to perform in October. That wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this from Ottavino.

In 2018 with Colorado, Ottavino pitched to a 1.40 ERA through July. Comparatively, he pitched to a 4.44 ERA in Aug. and Sept. The most noticeable difference was a spike in his walks-per-nine from 3.51 to 5.47.

The 2020 season is going to be very different. Rather than a 162-game marathon, it’ll be a 60-game sprint. Perhaps this will force Aaron Boone to deploy his relievers into more high-leverage situations since every game counts that much more. However, I’d like to think that since the Yankees’ relievers will make a fraction of the appearances they usually will, it will benefit guys like Ottavino come Oct. Only time will tell.