Throughout the regular season, the Yankees bullpen was one of the team's calling cards. Even at times when the starting pitching struggles, the Yankees could seemingly always rely on the backend of their bullpen.
One of the key cogs of that backend has been Adam Ottavino, who pitched to a 1.90 ERA in 73 regular season appearances.
But the postseason, specifically the ALCS, has been a different story for the right-hander.
After allowing the game-tying home run to George Springer in the fifth inning of Game 2, Ottavino struggled again in Tuesday's Game 3 loss.
With the Yankees trailing 2-0 entering the seventh inning, Aaron Boone handed the ball over to Ottavino. After walking Springer to begin the frame, Jose Altuve singled through the hole to give the Astros first-and-third with no outs. Both runners would come around to score.
Ottavino's ALCS ERA now stands at 20.25. Even with Ottavino's 12.86 overall postseason ERA, Boone expressed his confidence in the reliever after the game.
"We'll continue to use him," Boone said. "I thought he was in the midst of a pretty good opening at-bat there with Springer and then he loses him. That's obviously difficult when you come in form the pen and you have a leadoff walk, especially there at the top of the lineup.
"We've put him in some tough spots, obviously, in the lineup, and then they're running and Altuve's first-pitch hitting, and the night's over there. Just got to be a little sharper with his command, a little sharper with his stuff, and we're going to need him moving forward."
After allowing two more earned runs without recording an out on Tuesday, Ottavino said he can't pinpoint one exact reason for his recent struggles.
"I've been working hard on days I don't pitch. I don't take any days off, I always do my routine and everything like that," Ottavino said. "So, can't point the finger at any one thing."
"I think everybody's throwing the ball well except for me. I know they're going to do their jobs, and I have confidence that I'm going to get another opportunity and I do my job, so I feel good about it."
When Ottavino exited the game, Boone handed the ball to another valued reliever in lefty Zack Britton.
After a fielder's choice moved the runners to second and third with one away, Britton allowed the first runner to score on a sac fly. Then, he uncorked a wild pitch that scored the Astros fourth and final run as a game.
"I felt like I was in a good position," Britton said afterwards. "Got ahead of (Yuli) Gurriel, and I was trying to get the sinker below the zone, and I just spiked it and it got away. That was frustrating because I felt that I was in a really good spot to get out of that with no runs allowed.
"We just need to reset. … I think we've just got to go up there as a pitching staff and continue to put up zeros, and I think the offense is going to come alive."
The Yankees now trail the ALCS 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday night in the Bronx, weather permitting, of course.
And even though things haven't gone their way the last two games, the key members of the Yankees' pen know they can turn things around.
"We've been really good. The bullpen's been outstanding the whole year," said Britton. "As a part of that bullpen, I think it's about going out there and just making good pitches, and when you don't they capitalize. It's a really good hitting team, but we've had some stretches too where maybe we've struggled but we bounced back fine, so I think we're going to be okay."
"I know we'll respond well," Ottavino said. "We've been kicked down before, but I feel like we always bounce back, and we're going to have to and we have the guys in here to do it."