Here we have a last few comments on the relief pitchers the Yankees used this season. And then some predictions for who will man the bullpen in 2009……….
Alfredo Aceves (6 games). 4 starts, two relief appearances. For my main comments on Aceves, please see the article on starting pitchers. Suffice to say that if he doesn’t make the rotation, he should be the long reliever.
Humberto Sanchez (2 games). Both appearances in relief. Sanchez after many stumbles and time lost to injury, finally made it to the Bronx in September. Sometimes you sit in the box seats and watch someone’s debut and you know you’re watching the beginning of an era. Sometimes you sit and watch and you think you see a journeyman. My impression was the latter. He’ll need an awfully good Spring to make the roster. I don’t see it – expect him to begin the year in Scranton.
Sidney Ponson (16 games). 15 starts, 1 relief. See the Starting pitchers comments for my thoughts on Mr Ponson.
Kei Igawa (2 games). 1 start. 1 relief appearance. How the Yankees came by Igawa is anyone’s guess. He came as the next young Oriental pitcher expected to make it big in the States. He became someone who needed to be developed before he was set to be a major league regular. He is now the man who the Yankees just wish someone would take away and put an end to their and his suffering. He suffered a 13.50 ERA in 2008 as the Yankees were willing to try anyone to give them left-handed relief. Unprotected and off the 40-man roster, I doubt we will see him back in New York pinstripe.
Ian Kennedy (10 games). 9 starts, 1 in relief. See the starting pitchers list for my thoughts on his pitching and chances for 2009.
Scott Patterson (1 game). 1 game in relief. The way that the Yankees treated Patterson in 2008 is a mystery to me. He had a great Spring and just missed the opening day roster by a hairs-breadth. In June, he was called up when the Yankees designated Morgan Ensberg for assignement and he pitched a lack-lustre 1 and a third innings in his debut for an ERA of 6.75. Too early to tell but the Yankees needed a reliever the next day so it was back to Scranton for Patterson where the people at the major level seemed to completely forget he existed. Despite a good year at Scranton, he was placed on waivers in September to clear space on the roster for incoming players (never a good sign for your future) and this seemingly expendable reliever / closer was claimed by San Diego where he had a good finish to the year giving up no runs in three appearances. This might make sense if there weren’t times in the year when the Yankees were really scratching around to find half-way decent pitchers. Anyway, good luck to him at the Padres in 2009.
So that’s em all. Where does that leave the New York Yankees’ bullpen for 2009. Well, barring any surprise additions or subtractions, I look at it like this:
Certainties: Rivera, Veras, Bruney, Marte
Possibles: Robertson, Ramirez, Giese, Aceves
Slim chance: Albaladejo, Sanchez
This, of course, doesn’t allow for injuries and the ever-present likelihood that one of the young arms will so impress the coaches in Spring training that they decide to give him a first chance. This happens almost every year and is impossible to predict. It also doesn’t allow for the possibiility that the big noises in New York might change their minds once more and decide that Chamberlain is a reliever after all. This makes way too much sense and therefore will not happen. It does however mean that the Yankees do not have to fill the last relief spot on their roster with some make-weight like Billy Traber.
The year in relief looks good.