As the Yankees get set to open up the postseason against the Twins Friday, undoubtedly one of their biggest strengths lies in the power arms they have waiting to come into the game out of the bullpen.
But according to John Smoltz, those weapons are going to put a lot of pressure on the man tasked with the decision on when to utilize them, Yankee manager Aaron Boone.
Smoltz appeared on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio on Wednesday and said the pressure Boone faces in October could be immense because "what's looming in the 'pen and the temptation to get there is going to be great."
Boone had previously discussed the ability to be somewhat untraditional in the way he handles his pitching staff in the playoffs this postseason. Chad Green made 54 appearances in the regular season, 15 of which were as an opener. The Yankees went 11-4 in those games, and that could be a tactic Boone chooses to use in the playoffs.
Even if Green gets the ball to start the game, that still leaves a cadre of pitchers in the bullpen who have the ability to mow down any lineup, including Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman.
But according to Smoltz, the abundance of options could make things difficult for Boone to find the right combination of pitchers to get the remaining outs after someone like Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton is done for the night.
"Using four (relievers) every game is going to be a challenge," Smoltz said. "That's typically why, when people talk about this year's postseason, you lean a little harder toward or you might push the edge to a team that has a prolific starters in Houston, where you don't have to get as many innings out of the 'pen."
It's no surprise that Smoltz might be partial to a team whose strength lies in its starting pitching as opposed to the bullpen. As a player, Smoltz was part of a Braves roster in the '90s backed by three Hall-of-Fame starters in himself, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. But despite nearly a decade's worth of regular season success, the 1995 World Series was the only one those Braves teams would win.
Meanwhile, 20 years later, the Royals won the 2015 World Series by building out their pitching staff from the end of the game and moving back. The game has continued to shift in that direction, and the Yankees appear to plan on using that blueprint in search of their 28th title in franchise history.
The question is: Can you actually have too many quality relievers in the bullpen? The Yankees clearly intend on finding out.