By Jackie Marciniak,
Sports Business Editor
As far back as many Yankees fans can remember, closer Mariano Rivera was always the anchor of New York’s bullpen. Upon Rivera’s retirement in 2013, the Yankees have struggled to find a system that worked as well as having Rivera close out games. However, this season has been off to a promising start for the Yanks’ new bullpen. With the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman in January and a great start from relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, the future is bright for the Yankees bullpen.
Chapman has been suspended by the league for 30 games under the new joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy upheld by the MLB. Chapman is the first player to undergo this new suspension rule.
Despite the absence of Chapman, Betances and Miller have been holding down the fort. In the Yankees’ first 11 games, Betances and Millers have pitched a combined total of 11 innings, aced 38 batters, allowed only five hits, and no earned runs. Together the relief pair has struck out 27 batters.
This 1-2 punch with Betances setting up Miller for the close has been working for New York. With Chapman rejoining the team on May 9, the Yanks’ bullpen will have even more depth. It is expected that Betances will pitch the seventh inning, Miller the eighth, and Chapman will close out the ninth inning.
Despite Miller’s broken bone on his hand, he is pushing through and wearing a brace to prevent further damage. According to ESPN, Miller believes his injury won’t matter. “As long as I keep striking people out, I won’t have to worry about this [broken] hand at all. It will end up just fine,” said Miller.
While it seems Betances and Miller have both shown their worth to the Yankees bullpen, manager Joe Girardi is not using his clutch pitchers as effectively as he should be. With the Yankees having a 5-9 record on the season and having been swept by the Oakland A’s in their latest series, something needs to be done in order to get the team back on track to a winning record. The answer could be the 1-2 combination of Betances and Miller.
According to ESPN, Girardi should be relying on his two ace pitchers to close out games instead of his struggling offensive lineup. As long as the Yankees’ offense can get their act together, they should anticipate to have a successful season with Betances, Miller, and Chapman closing out their games.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 26th print edition.
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