Why Aroldis Chapman Could Make the Yankees' Bullpen the Best Ever
Yeah, because the Yankees needed another dominant late-inning reliever.
On Monday, New York acquired the most dominant closer in all of baseball, Aroldis Chapman, from the Cincinnati Reds, in exchange for four minor leaguers. Cincinnati was motivated to move Chapman at a steep discount after recent reports of gun violence and domestic abuse surrounding the fireballing closer.
The Yankees decided to take the gamble and trade for Chapman, who will no doubt help them on the field. New York already fielded one of the better late-inning duos in Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, and now with the addition of Chapman, they have the most dominant bullpen in the Majors.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) December 28, 2015
No other bullpen in baseball has the ability to miss as many bats as these three guys. Chapman, Betances, and Miller combined to strike out 40.5% of the batters they faced in 2015. The top three relievers according to strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) were Chapman (15.74), Miller (14.59) and Betances (14.04). And they also owned the top three swing and miss percentages among MLB relievers last year, with Miller first at 42.7%, Chapman second at 42.6% and Betances third at 39.8%.
I mean, this really isn't fair.
The Yankees have essentially turned every game into a six-inning affair.
And while Betances had the lowest ERA, second-highest fWAR and best nERD out of the three, it's certain that it'll be Chapman closing games for the Yankees next season, thanks to a blazing fastball that normally sits above 100 miles per hour.
Strikeouts on pitches of at least 100 MPH in 2015 Aroldis Chapman 71 All other pitchers combined 28
— Ace of MLB Stats (@theaceofspaeder) December 28, 2015
Aroldis Chapman since 2011 has thrown 1241 pitches 100 MPH+... The rest of MLB combined 1187.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) December 28, 2015
Now you may be saying to yourself, "Self, the Yankees rotation wasn't too hot in 2015, and they haven't done anything to rectify that." That would be very true. Yankees starters ranked 10th in ERA in the AL last year and 12th in innings pitched.
This is not a good template for success over a 162-game season.
However, the team with last year's best bullpen, the Kansas City Royals, just won a World Series with a starting rotation that ranked dead last in innings in the American League and was 12th in ERA. Both marks were worse than the Yankees'.
Yankees had 72 quality starts, Royals had 71. https://t.co/5AFClU6lKQ
— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) December 29, 2015
But if 2016 is anything like the last few seasons have been for all three pitchers, it may be enough. And this trio will at the same time go down as the greatest relief trio in baseball history.
The 1990 Reds had a similar situation with The Nasty Boys: Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers. All three threw hard and essentially shortened games by three innings.
Charlton bounced between the bullpen and the rotation but was a full-time reliever in the postseason, where the trio allowed one earned run in 24 innings en route to the Reds' shocking World Series victory.
The 1998 Yankees had a terrific bullpen in Mariano Rivera's first year as the closer, joined by Jeff Nelson, Ramiro Mendoza, Mike Stanton and Graeme Lloyd. Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner were a pretty awesome trio for the 2003 Astros as well.
But as far as pure swing-and-miss stuff, Chapman, Miller and Betances could go down as the best of all time.
Now, it is possible the Yankees could trade Miller. He has been rumored as a closer who could be on the move all offseason. But for now, he's a Yankee, one-third of the most dominant bullpen in Major League Baseball.