The Yankees bullpen was "destined" to become the best the game had ever seen. Yankees relievers were believed to be able to dominate game after game.
What's that they say about the best laid plans?
Truthfully, the Yankees do not have a lot to complain about. Entering Tuesday's contest, New York has the best record in baseball (31-13), and are winners of 22 of their last 26 games.
However, the vaunted bullpen has not been nearly as magnificent as presupposed, stirring a bit of concern for the long-term fortune of the season. The Yankees' flaw was not to have anything to do with its relievers, but there is a good chance that the bullpen will be the very area addressed as the trade deadline approaches.
As we look up and down the string of relievers, the Yankees have just one -- closer Aroldis Chapman -- that has performed to the expected level.
David Robertson's Houdini act is faltering as he owns a 4.22 ERA. It is important to recall that he was not exactly lights out in Chicago before being traded to New York.
Dellin Betances has been better in his last three appearances, but he has had various spells of poor results this season, and carries a 4.74 ERA despite a 16.1 K/9. Further, Betances was incredibly wild last season to the point that the Yankees refused to use him in high-leverage situations at the end of the regular season and postseason.
Chad Green, who was a savior many times in 2017, has been effective (2.52 ERA), but much less dominant this season. Green has once again been asked to pitch multiple innings this season. It has become apparent that the second frame does not go as smooth as the first, or he's seemed tired from previous stints at the outset of an appearance.
To make matters worse, the Yankees have been without two of their presumed high-leverage core - Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren - for a combined 57 games through Monday. Kahnle is on a rehab assignment with Low-A Charleston, while Warren is in Tampa throwing simulated games.
Warren is concerning as he's had his share of health issues in recent seasons, and his ability to pitch in extended outings is something the Yankees need.
Considering the injury concerns combined with up and down performances from everyone except Chapman (who, to be fair, has had his own shaky moments), the Yankees will minimally have to keep an eye on the reliever market, and in my estimation, be ready to make a splash in the area at the trade deadline.
It is true the Yankees will likely target a starting pitcher, but it would not be surprising if the club also invests in a bullpen arm in an effort to alleviate some work for the current relief crew.
Generally speaking, the Yankees rotation does not pitch deep into games, so the bullpen will continue to receive heavy workloads. To this point in the season, none of the Yankees relievers have demonstrated they are completely in control when they have to extend their appearances, making it extremely important that they be as deep as possible with high-leverage relievers.
In that sense, the Yankees should look at relievers like Brad Hand, Rasiel Iglesias and the host of others that will come on the market in the summer. The Yankees will want (need) some relief assurance beyond the history that Betances, Robertson and Warren possess as well as the potential of Green or Kahnle taking another step forward in their progression as high-leverage relievers.
To be frank, the Yankees could add a reliever even if their current crew begins to run smoothly on all cylinders. The Yankees are no longer the surprising team in the league, rather they are clearly in win-now mode. In this day and age, bullpen production is at the forefront to success.
The present reality is that the bullpen is more of a liability than an advantage. The Yankees might not have expected to be in this situation, however, it is one that should not be ignored. That may mean a new face or two on the mound in late innings for the Yanks as they hit the stretch run.
Sometimes, the best laid plans require an alteration.