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Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Yanks' righty relievers key against Twins


Nick's Twins Blog asked It's About the Money, Stupid five questions about the Yankees heading into their Division Series, and here's one of them:
NTB: Give us a breakdown of the Yankees bullpen. Mariano Rivera struggled a bit late in the season but he had another great year and is a postseason legend. Beyond him, however, this doesn't appear to be one of the better groups in baseball. Is there a lefty specialist that you'd trust against the likes of Joe Mauer and Jim Thome late in a game?

IIATMS: Our relief corps got better as the year went on. They ended with a 3.47 ERA (0.02 better than the Twins). Our FIP is not great at 4.06, but blame that on Mo Rivera, whose FIP is usually higher than his ERA (this year a full point higher). The addition of Kerry Wood at the trade deadline was a huge help down the stretch (0.69 ERA, .160 BA against, 10.73 K/9). We don’t expect Wood to be that good in the post-season, but he doesn’t have to be that good to help get us to Mo. As for our LOOGY? That would be household name Boone Logan, a guy whose mere appearance warming in the bullpen used to trigger a spasm of hate tweets in Yankeedom. Only Logan ended the season with an ERA under 3. Against lefties he had a K/9 of over 12 and a FIP of 1.87. He also got better as the year went on: he allowed just one earned run in 13 innings of pitching in July and August. That’s not bad for a LOOGY, and no, we don’t trust Logan versus Joe Mauer in a high-leverage situation. If you know of a LOOGY who IS effective against Joe Mauer, please let us know who that LOOGY is, and we’ll sign him to an eight-figure free agent contract before Wednesday. Only kidding. We wouldn’t do that. So there wouldn’t be any harm in recommending a LOOGY to us. You can trust us.

As usual, for the Yankees it'll be all about getting the ball to Mariano Rivera. Everybody knows about the question marks following CC Sabathia in the rotation, but that impacts the bullpen, too; if Joe Girardi can't count on his other starters, he'll be going to his relievers that much earlier. And they would seem to be in pretty good shape there, with Joba Chamberlain pitching better than his (4.40) ERA and Kerry Wood pitching brilliantly since joining the Yankees.

But those guys will need to pitch well. Because even if you have more faith in Boone Logan than IIATMS does, it looks like he'll be the only lefty in the bullpen. Which means the Yankees' middle-relieving righties will have to retire the Twins' tough lefty hitters at least a few times.