It seems that the New York Yankees can’t make anything easy. Even when they win, it’s always a struggle. Last night the Yanks had a rare offensive outbreak, scoring 12 runs, but they nearly blew two big leads and narrowly escaped with a 12-11 victory over the Texas Rangers.
An underlying story to this narrow victory is the Yankees’ bullpen. The pen’s been the best part of New York’s team this season and is a main reason why the Yanks still have faint hope to make the playoffs. Despite quality relief pitching on a consistent basis, is the Yankees’ bullpen already showing signs of fatigue?
New York’s main three relievers are Adam Warren, rookie All-Star Dellin Betances and closer David Robertson, all of whom have been asked to carry a heavy workload. Betances has more innings pitched than any other relief pitcher in the AL, with 63.2 innings over 47 appearances. Warren is not far behind him with 52.2 innings pitched, and Robertson would also be among the league leaders if he hadn’t missed some time on the DL earlier this season.
Regardless of their talent level, these three guys are tired and it’s not even August yet. The final two months are the most grueling of the season, and New York needs these three guys to be great down the stretch. That’s asking an awful lot, and this may be the early stages of fatigue as the Yankees fight to stay afloat.
New York went almost four months without Betances and Robertson each giving up runs in the same game. Now that feat has occurred twice in the last three games. As for Warren, he’s given up four runs in his last 1.1 innings of work, which was spread over three outings. These guys are showing signs that they can be beaten, and fatigue has to be a factor.
The mental pressure is also very straining, and it always seems to be on these three valuable pitchers. The Yankees rarely blowout the opposition and constantly playing close games will demand more and more appearances by Betances and Robertson. Last night’s win was the first time since Apr. 24 that the bombers eclipsed double-digit runs. That was 84 games ago; the Yanks have scored 10 or more just three times this season. There’s rarely a game that they can relax with a big lead and avoid using their best relievers.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the remainder of this year plays out with the bullpen. The use of New York’s valuable relievers will continue to be heavy as long as the Yankees stay in the pennant race. If New York maintains relevance in the standings into September, they must be careful not to risk the health of their relievers due to overuse, especially Betances. He gets so many appearances because the Yanks are always in situations where manager Joe Girardi only trusts Betances or Robertson, depending on the inning.
This part of the season is when the Yanks will need more offense and hopefully get some wins without using these guys for every one. The Yankees’ remaining starting pitchers also have to get deeper into ballgames, something that hasn’t happened nearly enough.