They might be the best team in the majors, but the New York Yankees are in imminent trouble. Michael King, the third-best relief pitcher in baseball by fWAR, walked off the mound in pain on Friday night in Baltimore. Per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, King fractured his elbow and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Yankees will know more tomorrow after testing tonight, but they are expecting that King will miss the rest of the season.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 23, 2022
The Yankees bullpen has run on King and Clay Holmes all season long, with some help from Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge. Chad Green is out for the season with Tommy John surgery. When Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga haven’t been injured, they have hurt the team on the field. They will rely on Albert Abreu and the currently injured Ron Marinaccio for now. As King is headed to the injured list, bullpen help is instantly the top priority for the Yankees. There are a ton of arms available on the trade market. The question is, who can the Yankees get?
David Robertson, Chicago Cubs
Let’s start with the obvious choice. Robertson has a history with the Yankees, setting up Mariano Rivera and then replacing him once the legendary closer retired. Robertson returned at the 2017 deadline and was a key member of the team through 2018. While he is now 37, Robertson has had a renaissance season for the lowly Cubs. With 13 saves, Robertson has a 1.93 ERA with a 31.8 K% and a .174 xBA against. He is throwing harder than ever before with unhittable breaking balls. A reunion makes too much sense for it to not happen.
Matt Moore, Texas Rangers
The former top prospect and ace of the Rays has been outstanding out of the bullpen for the Rangers. There are only 11 pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched and no home runs allowed. New York’s own Clay Holmes has the lowest ERA of the group. The second best is Moore, at 1.69. He has a 27.3 K% with just a 26.7% hard-hit rate. His big change has been an increase in curveball use, along with an uptick in velocity. Even as a southpaw, he has been better against right-handers, limiting them to a .519 OPS. The one issue with Moore is his control, as he is rocking a 5.1 BB/9. Since Moore is 33 and hasn’t had an ERA+ over 100 since 2013, the price may not even be too high.
Anthony Bass, Miami Marlins
The 34-year-old has been the top reliever on the Marlins, sporting a 1.33 ERA and a 310 ERA+. Bass is not the biggest strikeout threat, but he is still above-average in those regards. Bass has just a 5.1 BB% with only one home run allowed all season long, helping his FIP drop to 2.06. He has a club option for 2023 worth $3 million. The concern here is that Bass has a career-high 29.6 flyball percentage. With only one homer allowed, that is bound to change. His xFIP is significantly higher than his FIP, even though 3.35 is still a good xFIP.
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
Both Bard and Alex Colome are pending free agents who have carried the Colorado bullpen. Despite playing half of their games in Coors Field, Colome has not allowed a homer and Bard has allowed just three all season. Because of stronger peripherals, Bard is the one to look at. He has a 1.96 ERA and a 2.41 xERA and a .258 xSLG against. Bard mainly throws exclusively a slider and a sinker. Both pitches have been dominant this season. His average velocity is 98 mph and a 55.2 percent groundball rate. At 37, he is in that Robertson tier of old-but-good relievers that could be solid rentals.
Jason Foley, Detroit Tigers
Foley represents the “find the next Clay Holmes” option. Foley has not been one of Detroit’s primary bullpen arms this season but has exceeded expectations when pitching. The Tigers mainly throw him in low-leverage situations, but Foley has been good when in medium and high-leverage. He throws a hard sinker roughly half of the time that strongly resembles Holmes. Just look at this pitch by Foley:
And here is Holmes:
Foley is also a native of Long Island and is on the aforementioned list of pitchers with 30-plus innings and no homers allowed. For a pitcher with a groundball rate over 54% like Foley, his .345 BAbip is high. A high BAbip despite a high GB% is something that Holmes struggled with before joining the Yankees. The fit makes sense. The only thing holding it up is that Foley is 26 with years left of control. Would the Tigers really want to trade him?
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
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