In a lot of ways, building the Yankees bullpen begins with building the Yankees rotation. If the team goes with three starters in the Division Series, does the odd man out slide into the rotation or does he slide off the roster completely? Is that answer different if — for some reason — A.J. Burnett is the chosen third starter instead of Phil Hughes? Not that I can imagine that happening, just throwing it out there.
We can confidently assume the Yankees will carry these five relievers: Mariano Rivera, Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, Dave Robertson and Boone Logan.
That leaves room for two or three relievers who can give the Yankees some depth if necessary.
Pros: Made last year’s postseason roster… Mopup man earlier in the season, but essentially filled the Alfredo Aceves role down the stretch… Had a 3.97 ERA with a .239 opponents average since the end of July… Girardi seemed to gain confidence in Guadin as the season progressed… Joe Mauer is 0-for-6 against him.
Cons: Not really a long man anymore. Has not been stretched out beyond 31 pitches since the end of August. Stretched beyond 40 pitches only once since the end of July… Allowed four home runs in his last 3.2 innings… Released in spring training and spent most of the year pitching in games that were already out of control one way or the other.
Pros: Has the most impressive season numbers of the bunch with a 3.33 ERA with a .223 opponents batting average… Those numbers are even better if you eliminate the early season spot starts. He had a 2.45 ERA and a .196 opponents average as a reliever… Generally a groundball pitcher… Could give the Yankees more than one inning… Has not allowed a run since September 13, a span of four outings.
Cons: Pitched 2.2 innings between August 27 and September 24. Girardi said Mitre was healthy at the time, so it seemed Girardi simply didn’t want to use him. Instead, Chad Gaudin seemed to be Girardi’s go-to one-or-two-inning reliever down the stretch…. Has thrown more than 16 pitches only once since September 5… The three Twins who have faced him more than three times have good numbers against him.
Pros: Arguably the team’s fourth-best starter at this point… Could throw 100 pitches if necessary, filling that last-resort role that Gaudin filled last postseason… His last four relief appearances: 8.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K… Had a 3.77 season ERA as a reliever… Generally pitched well in his past two spot starts when a handful of mistakes cost him.
Cons: Those handful of mistakes were two two-run home runs on Sunday, and a three-run seventh inning in Texas… Not a big strikeout pitcher, with 33 Ks and 27 walks for the year… Threw 94 pitches on Sunday, so there’s no guarantee he would even be available in Games 1 or 2.
Pros: As a starter, showed a tendency to dominate through his first four or so innings, suggesting he would be a perfect fit in the bullpen… Overall numbers are only so-so, but he was generally impressive in his debut season… First time facing hitters in a game (as a starter), he held opponents to a .196 average with only two extra-base hits in 63 plate appearances.
Cons: Allowed the final three runs, one of them charged to him, in the Yankees regular season finale loss on Saturday (sorry, the weekend runs together)… Has pitched as a reliever only once since mid-May… Despite the fact he was a starter, he’s not any more stretched out than Dustin Moseley or Javier Vazquez… Still just 23 years old. Easily the least experienced of the options.
Pros: Only option as a second left-handed reliever… Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel are all left-handed suggesting a lot of opportunities for situational pitching changes… Faced only nine left-handers in his short time with New York, but held lefties to a .202 average in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre… In his career Ring has faced 168 lefties in the big leagues and held them to a .237 average with 41 strikeouts and two home runs.
Cons: Hardly pitched for New York this season. Only five games and 12 batters… Lefties were 3-for-8 against him this season, though one of those hits was a bunt single by David Ortiz yesterday… Limited experience against the Twins top left-handers. He’s faced Jim Thome four times, striking him out twice and walking him twice. Otherwise, he’s never seen any of the Twins lefties. Not much of a track record to go on.
Pros: Most impressive career track record of the bunch… 2.70 ERA and a .170 opponents batting average in five relief appearances this season… For more than two months — May 17 to July 26 — he was 8-3 with a 3.16 ERA and looked like a postseason starter… Stretched out to more than 80 pitches.
Cons: Last appearance was a 10-hit, seven-run start in Toronto… Since July 31 he has a 6.97 ERA with a .303 opponents batting average. He’s allowed 14 home runs in 12 games… Girardi seemed hesitant to use him out of the bullpen down the stretch, either because he was saving Vazquez for a potential start or because Girardi had lost confidence… Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young all have good career numbers against him, especially Cuddyer and Young.