Outsider Nick Burdi steps up heat in spring to push Yankees for MLB cap

Yankees non-roster pitcher invite Nick Bardi at 2024 training camp.

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The remarks from Yankees coaches regarding non-roster invitee Nick Burdi this spring have been exceptionally commendatory, surpassing typical levels of praise. has been turning heads at Yankees camp in recent weeks. His impressive performances during bullpen sessions and live batting practice have garnered significant attention.

Nick Burdi has been dazzling onlookers with his triple-digit fastball and a sharp, biting slider, all delivered from an unorthodox yet effective arm slot. From pitching coach Matt Blake to skipper Aaron Boone, everyone is in awe of the pitcher. Last month, pitching coach Matt Blake remarked “That’s as good an arm as there is out there,” hinting at a possible MLB stake for him.

On Saturday morning, manager Aaron Boone made Nick Burdi’s claim for the Yankees roster more pronounced when he said, “From pure stuff, that’s as nasty as you will ever witness.”

Nick Burdi is more than just impressing

Nick Burdi isn’t just impressing in controlled settings. He is translating that success to game situations, mirroring the path of relievers like Lucas Luetge and Ian Hamilton, who parlayed strong springs with the Yankees on minor-league deals into regular-season roster spots.

In Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Orioles, Nick Burdi dominated in the eighth inning. Despite allowing a walk and a base hit, he struck out all three batters he faced, with the first strikeout being a particularly awe-inspiring display.

In a display of exceptional control and deception, Nick Burdi’s 2-2 slider to Orioles shortstop Errol Robinson had the batter fooled completely. Anticipating a high and inside fastball, Robinson instinctively ducked away, completely off-balance. But his sharp slider had other plans. The pitch exhibited remarkable late movement, breaking back into the strike zone as Robinson flinched. The fooled batter watched helplessly as catcher Josh Breaux snagged the pitch for a resounding called strike three.

Scouts positioned behind home plate scribbled furiously in their notebooks, clearly impressed by the display. It’s no wonder manager Aaron Boone described Nick Burdi’s arsenal as “remarkable” last month, and why the Yankees took a chance on the talented reliever by inviting him to camp.

NRIF Nick Burdi opening eyes on Yankee brass

However, despite the electric performance, Nick Burdi’s fight for a roster spot remains an uphill battle. He must continue showcasing his dominance throughout spring training to solidify his place on the Yankees’ pitching staff.

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Despite his impressive outing, Nick Burdi’s journey to securing a spot on the Yankees‘ active roster is far from guaranteed. A significant hurdle he faces is his non-roster invitee status. Unlike pitchers like Ron Marinaccio and Nick Ramirez who are already on the 40-man roster, Burdi needs to crack that list first.

Space in the bullpen is also a concern. With established relievers like Wandy Peralta and Michael King sidelined with injuries, there are limited spots available, and healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster will likely be given priority.

However, Nick Burdi has a glimmer of hope. The Yankees’ success stories of Lucas Luetge and Ian Hamilton, who earned roster spots after strong springs on minor league deals, demonstrate that a path exists for non-roster invitees to break through.

Nick Burdi must continue to impress throughout spring training and showcase consistent dominance to convince the Yankees he deserves a coveted spot on the big league pitching staff. His recent performance is a strong start, but the competition is fierce, and his non-roster status adds another layer of difficulty to his fight for a place on the team.

At 31, Nick Burdi’s path to the Yankees’ bullpen is paved with both promise and hurdles. While his recent outings have been electric, his injury history raises concerns. Burdi has undergone Tommy John surgery twice and also had thoracic outlet surgery. These setbacks have limited his appearances to just 19 games across four major league seasons, with only six outings since 2019.

Despite the limited sample size, Nick Burdi’s talent is undeniable. However, his career major league ERA sits at a hefty 9.39, highlighting the inconsistency that plagued his earlier appearances.

The key question for the Yankees is Nick Burdi’s sustainability. Can he maintain his current level of dominance with consistent control over a longer period? His ability to stay healthy and replicate these impressive outings throughout spring training will be crucial in determining his place on the Opening Day roster in Houston. While his present form is exciting, consistent performance and good health are the cornerstones Burdi needs to establish to solidify his role on the Yankees’ pitching staff.

Boone commented after observing Nick Burdi’s performance on Saturday that he believes there’s room for improvement in refining his pitch selection. He noted that Burdi tends to allow hitters to get back into the count by getting too deep in certain situations. Despite this, Boone acknowledged the quality of Nick Burdi’s pitching every time he took the mound and emphasized the importance of refining his execution to maximize his potential.

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