BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. — The Yankees entered Thursday with 62 games left in the season to solidify their spot somewhere in the postseason picture, whether it be first place, wild card or bust.
Their bullpen is shaping up to be the beacon leading the Yankees to October baseball.
“It’s no question [the Yankees] have the best pen in baseball,” former Yankee and Met Lee Mazzilli said at the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation’s Charity golf event.
With the addition of Zach Britton, the Yankees’ already stacked bullpen, which entered Thursday first in the majors in ERA (2.75), strikeout rate (31.5 percent) and slugging percentage against (.327), is now loaded with talent.
“You look at this team and they are dangerous,” the former Yankees first base and bench coach continued. “Britton is a great addition . . . Now you’re getting late into the season, with playoffs that’s going to be a five-inning game with that bullpen.”
Jim Leyland, the former manager and current special assistant for the Tigers, agreed, “Before Britton got hurt, he was one of the best closers in baseball.”
Britton is wiping away the rust after returning from an Achilles injury. He was traded to the Yankees after making 16 appearances with a 3.45 ERA. In his last eight outings with the Orioles, Britton threw eight shutout innings.
“[Brian] Cashman’s done an amazing job over the last three years building this team,” Tino Martinez said.
The Yankees didn’t stop with just fortifying the bullpen. On Thursday, they boosted their rotation with the trade for J.A. Happ. In 20 starts for Toronto this season, Happ was 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA. In his career, he’s 102-82 with a 3.95 ERA.
It doesn’t hurt that both Happ and Britton have pitched well against the Red Sox in their careers, making the final 10 head-to-head matchups even more interesting. Happ is 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA and Britton has a 1.01 ERA in 35 innings of relief against Boston.
So what does Mazzilli think about the Yankees’ chances?
“I’m picking my team,” Mazzilli laughed. “I don’t think the Yankees have hit their high note yet. They have a lot left in their tank. They are playing well and they’re a good team. They’re going be a good team for the next four to five years.”