Yankees zero on low-key but good options to bolster bullpen

The Yankees bullpen training
Michael Bennington
Monday January 29, 2024

Table of Contents

The New York Yankees are actively pursuing reinforcements for their bullpen, with a focus on reliable arms such as Phil Maton and Ryan Brasier. Despite missing out on Hector Neris, the Yankees are determined to secure veteran relievers known for inducing weak contact and minimizing hard-hit balls.

Maton to bring a magic touch to Yankees

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Phil Maton‘s 2023 season with the Houston Astros showcased his exceptional control over contact. Boasting a career-best 3.00 ERA, Maton held the lowest hard-hit percentage (23.2%) among qualified pitchers with over 50 innings pitched. Opponents struggled to make solid contact, registering an average exit velocity of only 84.5 mph against his pitches. This performance extends beyond a single season, as Maton ranks ninth in hard-hit rate and seventh in innings pitched among qualified relievers since 2020, highlighting his durability and consistency.

While Maton may not rely on overpowering fastballs, his effective curveball and strategic approach make him a versatile asset for manager Aaron Boone at various points in a game. Additionally, his noteworthy postseason experience, marked by a 0.83 ERA in 21.2/3 innings, adds another layer to his value. A scout in MLB noted, “Maton may not fit the traditional back-of-the-bullpen role, but he can deliver two to three quality innings in the middle frames. His intelligence, precision, and the effectiveness of his curveball make him a valuable weapon.”

Brasier’s redemption arc to help Yankees

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Ryan Brasier‘s 2023 season unfolded as a tale of two halves. Starting with a challenging 7.29 ERA for the Boston Red Sox, he appeared destined for a challenging season. However, a midseason trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers marked a significant turning point. In Dodger blue, Brasier underwent a remarkable transformation, boasting a 0.76 ERA in 38.2/3 innings. His ground-ball rate and strikeout rate surged, and he successfully limited hard-hit balls, nearly matching the avoidance rates of elite closers Josh Hader and Clay Holmes.

Despite concerns about Brasier’s age (36), the Yankees are likely willing to overlook it for a reasonable one-year deal. His introduction of a cutter in 2023 hints at further development potential under the Yankees’ esteemed pitching staff, adding an intriguing dimension to his acquisition.

While Maton and Brasier may not headline the Yankees’ bullpen signings, they align with the team’s current strategy of prioritizing cost-effective, seasoned arms renowned for generating weak contact. Both pitchers bring valuable skills to complement closer Clay Holmes and provide essential depth to the bullpen. With limited options and a commitment to fiscal prudence, these experienced veterans offer practical solutions to address a crucial area of need.

Will familiar faces return?

The Yankees are also open to the possibility of reuniting with former pitchers Wandy Peralta or Keynan Middleton, who are familiar with the Bronx. Adding either of them would enhance the bullpen’s depth, providing additional security against inevitable injuries.

While the Yankees’ bullpen additions may not grab headlines, their deliberate focus on affordability, experience, and contact control reflects a strategic approach to addressing a pivotal need. By incorporating reliable arms adept at inducing ground balls, such as Maton and Brasier, the Yankees aim to construct a resilient bullpen capable of navigating the challenges of a demanding season and competing for another World Series title.

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