The New York Yankees typically carry a second catcher, and extra infielder, and a fifth outfielder on their bench, with eight pitchers in the bullpen. The Yankees just acquired LHP Zach Britton and his killer sinker from the Orioles which leads us to the most important question of our time: Can the Yankees finally get rid of Chasen Shreve?
Look, I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy, but I'm not a big fan of his baseball play. My girlfriend is loving and tolerant of all, but I've never seen more frustration than when she heard his first name, asked why his parents didn't just choose Chase or Jason, and then blew up about the insanity of him being a grown man with that ludicrous of a name.
The Yanks have Britton now, a lefty, which brings us to a little game of: Push. Chasen. OUT. Let's see if we can find 8 relievers who deserve to be on the Yankees more than Mr. Shreve.
1. LHP Aroldis Chapman. All-Star. Closer. 100 mph+. They'll keep him.
2. LHP Zach Britton. The newest addition to the 'pen, Britton had a 2.89 ERA last year, a 0.54 ERA in 2016, and ERAs under 2 in both '14 and '15. He's begun to show his true form again after recovering from ankle surgery and his left-handedness is a large part of the reason why Chasen appears expendable (though Chasen's 6.57 ERA/1.62 WHIP v. lefties this year doesn't make him much of a specialist). Having a second lefty takes the "need a lefty for match-ups" argument away from anyone saying Shreve belongs on the team.
3. RHP David Robertson. Another former closer, D-Rob has a 3.05 ERA with a sub-1 WHIP and has K'd 55 in 44.1 innings. Next.
4. RHP Dellin Betances. People sure seemed to write off Betances when he struggled late last season with his command. But, he sure looks like his old self now. 2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 76 K's in 43.1 IP. Plus his FIP (2.38) and xFIP (2.01) indicate that he's performing even better than his ERA suggests.
5. RHP Chad Green. Last year, Green went from depth spot starter to setup man extraordinaire, posting a 1.83 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP with 103 strikeouts in 69 innings. Opponents only hit .147 against him. This year, he's continued to be great with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP with 58 K's in 48 innings. So, not quite the monster he was a year ago, but still a stud nonetheless.
6. RHP Jonathan Holder. For some reason, I feel like Holder has been around forever, popping between Scranton and the big leagues. It looks like this is his third year making big league appearances, first full-time. After putting up a 3.89 ERA/1.35 WHIP in 39.1 IP last year, Holder took a huge step forward this season. At 41.2 IP, he's already passed his inning total from last season and he's done so to the tune of a 1.94 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. 37 Ks on the season show he's not the strikeout king his pen-mates are, but 7.99 K/9 still isn't anything to scoff at. A 2.51 FIP shows that Holder's number's might be a little better than his performance, but the only real worry here is that his xFIP sits at 4.28 which is a sign that we're in for some negative regression. That said, from May to date, dude has let in just 3 earned runs over 34 innings (0.79 ERA). If you cut out his April, Holder's season is one of the most dominant in the league.
7. RHP Adam Warren. The man with the same name as the character on the tragically cancelled ABC Drama "The Family," Adam Warren is one of the most underrated, incredibly valuable players in the game. A 2.39 ERA, 3.05 WHIP, and 3.43 xFIP. An 11.62 K/9 and a .235 avg against, the guy is as good as a 7th best pitcher in your 'pen can be. He does what's asked of him -- happy to pitch however long the team needs him to. He's a true Yankee. I also love that he had a miserable 5.91 ERA with Chicago in 2016, got sent to the minors, then when he came back in the Chapman deal, he went on to finish the season in the AL with a 3.26 ERA. Dude's great.
That brings us to the 8th spot in the 'pen. I'd say it's pretty undeniable that the 7 pitchers we've discussed to this point are much more worth of spots in the 'pen than Shreve and his 4.25 ERA and his 1.44 WHIP and his inability to get same-handed hitters out. Add in the fact that Shreve has a history of performing worse in the second half, and the guy's not worth a roster spot. Opponents have hit .207/.291/.412 against him in the first half throughout his career, then improving to .252/.361/.461 once the All-Star Break's gone by. He also struggles at home, with a .248/.341/.475 line at Yankee Stadium. September is going to be full of high-intensity games where every run counts. Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't weaken history's greatest bullpen by throwing a guy with a 5.92 Sept/Oct career ERA into the mix. I'd love to have a hitter bat .283/.407/.520 for my team in the last month of the season - unfortunately, that's what all hitters have done to Shreve collectively during the Septembers of his career.
So, who gets that 8 spot? One option, of course, is to give it to a position player and bulk up the bench a bit -- Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade come to mind. But, more likely, the Yankees will want to give that slot to a reliever who can go multiple innings. Chapman, Britton, Robertson, Betances, Green, and Holder all shouldn't be wasted in a blowout game. Warren can stretch, but only for so long. The Yankees need somebody in the 'pen who can deal for 3 or 4 innings if a starter gets hurt or thrown out, or if a game gets out of hand early. Thus far this year, that guy has been AJ Cole. He doesn't pitch often, but he's done everything the Yanks could ask of him.
8. RHP AJ Cole. At first glance, Cole's starts are...ahem, not good. a 4.78 ERA? 4.75 FIP? 3.70 xFIP? What am I supposed to be excited about? His middle of the road 1.25 WHIP? Nothing's blowing me away! Ok....but NOW, what if we take into account that his first 4 games were with the Nationals, they included 2 starts, 10.1 innings, 16 hits, 6 BBs, and 6 HRs. Oh boy. Since he became a Yankee, though? Our guy's rocking a 0.83 ERA over 21.2 innings. He's struck out 28 since putting on pinstripes, and walked only 6 (as many as he did in DC in more than 2x as many innings). A 2.01 FIP and 2.46 xFIP back things up. Those stats are great regardless of your role in the 'pen, but for those to be the numbers on the worst guy in your bullpen -- your mop-up man, well that's pretty impressive. And the only way to become that impressive is by getting rid of Chasen Shreve.
Note: If you can't get yourself to believe in somebody in the super-pen, note that Tommy Kahnle is still at triple-A and seems to be getting back to his old self, Domingo Acevedo and Luis Cessa both are arguably better mop-up men than Shreve, and Domingo German has shown flashes of brilliance between flashes of disaster at the major league level this year. In a relief role, he might find himself thriving a lot more than he has as a starter to this point in the year. There are so many non-Shreve options. There has to be somewhere they can send him off to before July 31st hits, securing the world's greatest bullpen and getting rid of that unreliable fella that someone legally named CHASEN.