The Yankees made their splash in the trade market Tuesday night, acquiring Orioles reliever Zach Britton -- expanding the dominance in an already stacked bullpen by creating a "Super Bullpen," with an eye toward locking down the organization's 28th World Series championship.
Assuming the Yankees reach the playoffs, the addition of Britton to the mix of All-Star caliber endgame relievers in Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, and even Chad Green, could go a long way to aiding the team's ability to string together 11 or 12 victories ending with a World Series title more so than a middling starting pitcher.
Brian Cashman understood the above, so when an impact reliever like Britton became available at their terms they pounced on it, understanding that once October begins the game changes.
The bullpen's 2.75 ERA and their 448 strikeouts rank first among all MLB teams. Among the entire collection, seven of the Yankees' relievers have strikeout rates above 10.0 per nine innings.
The Yankees now have four relievers -- Britton, Betances, Chapman and Robertson -- that would be considered closers for many teams in the game. Among the grouping there are 535 career saves. Teams will feel immense pressure when playing from behind against the Yankees as the game shifts to the sixth, even fifth inning, knowing that New York can march out arm after arm with varying weapons in each repertoire to shut down the victory.
They are not simply a group of a few endgame relievers -- the depth of quality goes through virtually the entirety of the bullpen. Add fireman-type Chad Green, surprising pitchers Jonathan Holder and A.J. Cole, veteran Adam Warren, and Tommy Kahnle waiting in the wings at Triple-A, and it is difficult to envision the Yankees losing many games in which they have a lead after five or six innings.
While the Rays have been using a bullpenning strategy this season, with up and down results, do not expect the Yankees to omit a starter from their stable down the stretch. However, they now have the ability to provide extra rest for relievers like Chapman who is nursing left knee tendinitis, while still being able to lock down tight games. Aaron Boone can feel confident in turning to any option in Betances, Britton, Chapman and Robertson on a given night to nail down a save.
Turn the page to October and that's when the "Super Bullpen" will matter most. At that stage the Yankees rotation will shift to three hurlers and the relievers become the focus. Of course, the Yankees do not want to reenact last season's Wild Card game, when ace Luis Severino could not get through the first inning. However, five innings becomes a very realistic desire for the starter with a crew of nine relievers that can shut down an opponent night after night in a playoff series.
The Yankees' bullpen was a certain strength before Tuesday night and now the addition of Britton has other teams lamenting New York as opponents down the stretch and in the postseason.