The New York Yankees have put together the most impressive trio of bullpen pitchers in all of baseball for the 2016 season.
To take it a step further Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, and Andrew Miller might be the most talented bunch of relievers the game of baseball has ever seen.
For the sake of discussion let’s compare them to the group that the Yankees got the 3-headed bullpen monster blue print from. The 2014 triad that led the Kansas City Royals all the way to game 7 of the World Series: Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrea, and Greg Holland.
In the 2014 regular season every member of the HDH lockdown formula logged over 60 innings and posted an ERA of less than 1.50. It was the first time in baseball history two relief pitchers from a single team posted sub 1.50 ERA’s with a minimum of 60 innings pitched, and the Royals had three.
So the simple questions is: Will Betances, Miller, and Chapman match what the 2014 trend setting Royals did?
The short answer is no. The long answer is, they certainly have the talent to outperform the 2014 Royals, but, a lot of things will have to go right for them to do so.
In fact the only member of the Yankees super ‘pen that has ever posted a sub 1.50 ERA is Betances, who did so in 2014. It is also worth mentioning that Betances posted a 1.50 ERA on the nose in 2015, so, another sub 1.50 ERA from Betances in 2016 is well within the realm of possibility.
Meanwhile Chapman posted a 1.51 ERA in 2012 and a 1.63 ERA in 2015. These values are obviously close to the sub 1.50 ERA standard. Still, Chapman would have to have a career season from a run prevention standpoint to help the Yankees match what the 2014 Royals accomplished.
Chapman, the hardest throwing pitcher in the league with a wicked slider no doubt has the stuff to post a sub 1.50 ERA. Moving from the NL Central to arguably the best hitting division in the AL East could also prove to be a barrier for Chapman in this hypothetical quest to 3 super-elite ERA’s.
Moving forward we have Miller, who had a career season in his first year with the Yankees, posting a 1.90 ERA and saving 36 games. Set to lose the closer job to Chapman through no fault of his own, can Miller post a career best ERA in 2016 and come in below the 1.50 threshold?
He certainly has the stuff too, but much like Chapman, this would be counting on a career best season from him in terms of run prevention.
The Yankees lockdown late innings will no doubt include more strike outs than the 2014 Royals posted. In 2015 every one of the Yankees trio posted a K/9 rate of greater than 14. The highest the 2014 Royals posted was Davis at 13.63, meanwhile Herrera did not even strike out a batter per inning.
Strike outs are important, especially late in games, and the 2016 Yankees will most likely punch out batters at a historic rate.
At the end of the day though, I think the most important thing for a pitcher is straight run prevention, and the best measure of that in my book is ERA.
I’m not going to sit here and argue that the Yankees ‘Pen in 2016 is not as talented as the 2014 Royals. In reality Betances, Chapman, and Miller are just as talented, if not more talented than HDH from 2014.
Based on talent alone the Yankees have a solid chance to have three relievers post sub 1.50 ERA’s. However, too many things would have to fall into place over the course of the 2016 season for the Yankees threesome to match what HDH accomplished in 2014.