Despite injuries, Yankees manager Aaron Boone optimistic about bullpen
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Yankees’ organizational depth when it comes to starting pitching — a concern of the club before spring training began — will be tested from Day 1 as Carlos Rodon is set to start the regular season on the injured list with a forearm injury.
And what is expected to be one of the best bullpens in the majors will be down two relievers — Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahnle — at season’s start.
But the team isn’t nearly as worried about that.
“I do feel good about our bullpen and our bullpen depth, even with having Tommy and Lou down to start the season,” Aaron Boone said. “Feel like we have the people that can step in and not only fill in but potentially impact us too.”
It’s not that the Yankees won’t miss Trivino, who pitched to a 1.66 ERA in 25 games after arriving with the bum-shouldered Frankie Montas from the A’s at the trade deadline, or Kahnle, signed to a two-year, $11.5 million free- agent deal in the offseason.
It’s just, as one rival AL scout said, “there’s still so many good options there.”
On the surface, the best of those are, in no particular order, Michael King, Ron Marinaccio, Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta. The latter is likely to enter the season as the only lefthander of the group, which is not a worry.
King and Marinaccio are two of the major reasons why. King, one of the game’s best relievers when he suffered a fractured elbow last July, had a 2.29 ERA in 34 games at the time, striking out 66 in 51 innings.
Righthanded hitters batted .200 with a .543 OPS and lefthanded hitters batted .179 with a .554 OPS against King, who has been lights-out in spring training.
Marinaccio, a surprise of camp a year ago and owner of two terrific outings in this camp, posted a 2.05 ERA in 40 games, striking out 56 in 44 innings. Like King, he was tough on righties and lefties. Righthanded hitters batted .152 with a .576 OPS and lefthanded hitters batted .146 with a .479 OPS.
Holmes, who took the closer’s job from Aroldis Chapman, went 20-for-25 in saves with a 2.54 ERA, striking out 65 in 63 2⁄3 innings. Peralta was among the most durable relievers in the game last season, posting a 2.72 ERA in 56 games.
The entire quartet has drawn raves from opposing scouts — especially King and Marinaccio, who did not pitch in the 2022 postseason because of a shin injury that caused him to be paced slightly slower than the other relievers in this camp.
“There’s not a lot of pens that have two guys of that caliber, let alone four,” one NL scout said. “And that’s not even counting a guy like Weissert, who I really like.”
As do the Yankees.
“He’s freaking nasty, man,” Gerrit Cole said of Weissert, who is best known for his slider but also features a good four-seam fastball and changeup.
The righthander, a graduate of Bay Shore High School and picked out of Fordham by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2016 draft, debuted last season and came into camp with a chance of winning a bullpen spot. With the injuries to Kahnle and Trivino, Weissert is all but assured of making it, as is righthander Jimmy Cordero, whose stuff has impressed the Yankees and rival evaluators alike.
“It’s really fun to see that we have so many guys that I’m going to trust if I leave runners on and they’re coming in behind me, and I know Boonie will trust them in any big situation,” King said recently. “It’s going to be a good group.”