Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Yankees Bullpen Trio "Comfortable in any scenario and want the ball,” Boone Says

Clay Holmes firing one in against Boston's Justin Turner on Saturday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees’ bullpen has been a strength for as long as anyone can remember, from Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle in the 1970s to the greatest close ever, Mariano Rivera, for nearly 20 years starting in 1995, to David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman in recent years.

A lot of those teams had a defined closer, so that makes the 2023 Yankees unique, in that Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Michael King can be called on any night to finish off a game.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone has been deliberate in not declaring a “closer,” which made the order Peralta, Holmes, and King pitched on Tuesday not strange at all.

With the Yankees up, 7-6, on Tuesday night against the Mets, Boone turned to the left-hander Peralta to start the bottom of the eighth inning.

Mark Canha led off with a walk, Brandon Nimmo singled, and Francisco Alvarez ground into a force out. Jeff McNeil was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, and that was all for Peralta, a rare tough night for him.

The Yankees then turned to Holmes, and he struck out Francisco Lindor on a full count, after he missed two punch-outs on the inside corner, and Starling Marte to end the massive threat.

Michael King came on for the bottom of the ninth, and he retired the Mets in order - Brett Baty grounded out, Tommy Pham struck out, and Luis Guillorme lined out to center - to end it. 

That was King’s fourth save of the season, while Holmes leads the way with eight saves, and Peralta has four. That makes it 16 saves combined for the trio.

Boone was asked, in his pregame press conference on Wednesday, if that’s good for them psychologically, and he said, “Yeah, I hope so, I think so, I think they’re all - I think first and foremost, I, and we, have a lot of confidence in them in any role, and if that’s closing out a game or, you know, it’s Clay coming in as tough a situation as you can come into there in the eighth, depending on, again, the biggest thing is depending on availability with these guys each and every day, and what we feel like we can use with them. 

“It’s ultimately trying to get them in the best spots to be successful, and some nights, it works out that way where you have that luxury, where, ‘man, this is exactly where I want them in this game.’ Some nights, you don’t have that luxury; you may be down a couple guys and you’re up against it, but, as much as I can, try and get them in positions I feel like they have the best chance to be successful, and I do think, you know, I do think, for the most part, those guys feel comfortable in any scenario and want the ball, and ultimately, you do want guys that want to be in the biggest situations with the ball in their hands, and we have a lot of those guys down there.”

Overall for the season, through Tuesday, the trio's stats are as follows:

Holmes has appeared in 31 games, and he has a 4-2 record with a 2.48 earned run average (ERA), and eight saves, with 36 strikeouts in 29 innings, with only eight runs (all earned) allowed on 23 hits and 13 walks.

Peralta is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA and four saves in 32 appearances, with 24 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched, and he has allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on 18 hits and 18 walks.

King has four saves and has appeared in 22 games, with a 1-2 record and 2.19 ERA, with 41 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. He has allowed nine runs (all earned) on 28 hits and 12 walks.

The Yankees’ bullpen, as a team, through Tuesday, had a Major League-best 2.72 ERA (78 earned runs in 258.1 innings pitched) and a .207 opponents’ batting average. The Yankees are one of only two MLB bullpens with an ERA below 3.00, with Cleveland’s 2.96 the other.

Boone said of the Yankees bullpen as a whole, “I mean, they’ve been great, they’ve been great, and I think one of the good things - you know, we’ve had some injuries down there, obviously getting Tommy (Kahnle) back, eventually we’ll get Lo (Jonathan Loaisiga) back and, you know, Ian Hamilton’s getting close now, again, was was one of those guys that really took advantage of an opportunity, but we’ve gotten to find out about some other guys that continue to grow in their roles or emerge in a more important role, but they’ve all kind of picked each other up, and protected each other and kind of shared the load a little bit, but they’ve been terrific and last night, you know, obviously was a really good night, a lot of big moments in that game.”

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