The question has been posed lately, in a lot of different forms, across the internet. The New York Yankees will have Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller presumably all pitching at one time for some of or all of this season. By far, the back of the bullpen is the Yankees’ biggest strength. They are likely going to have the best bullpen in baseball, an above average offense and an average pitching staff.
So how should the Yankees best utilize the one thing that makes the team elite?
Let’s examine all of the options who can replace the starter as we know them today. Betances, Miller and Chapman could all be closers, but we already know Chapman is likely to maintain a traditional closer’s role, which is fine with me because some players are a creature of habit and this will only encourage Chapman to stay on the Yankees if he’s in a position to make money.
We know Chasen Shreve is a go-to lefty who was very successful last season. After that, things get a little hazy as the Yankees have a lot of high upside arms who will compete to fill out the rest of the bullpen. And we know the long man will either be Bryan Mitchell or Ivan Nova.
So what to do with the known products? The options would seem to be a “corporate ladder” if Miller or Betances pitching the eighth and the other the inning prior, or both pitchers being used interchangeably with Shreve playing a more specialized role, or alternating between Betances and Miller depending on fatigue. Cases can be made for each method but logically the Yankees should use Miller and Betances interchangeably with an eye towards fatigue.
The nice thing about Miller is he is a lefty but can get either type of hitter out. With Shreve in the mix, the Yankees really don’t need to focus on concentrating Miller a certain way and utilizing him and Betances without inning restrictions in each game would mean they can combine to bridge the gap from the 6th-9th inning on any given night.
With the Yankees averaging just under six innings per game from its starting rotation, this method allows it to use its starters more interchangeably which provides the team with more viable starting pitching depth. Using a bullpen with more freedom helps cover up for a major potential flaw and helps strengthen the potential rotation weakness.