Legends On Deck

Game Of The Week: Yankees And Tigers Missing Key Bullpen Assets

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For this week’s installment of the “Game of the Week” here at Legends on Deck the focus turns to Comerica Park as the Detroit Tigers open their 2016 season by hosting the New York Yankees this upcoming weekend.

The 2015 season saw the fall of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central as they battled injuries. For the Yankees, they reached the American League Wild Card Game where they fell to the Houston Astros. The 2016 season is essential for both former American League Champions as they try and turn things around fix what was “broken”.

With high expectations out of Spring Training, both clubs are facing issues with their bullpens, starting the season without some pivotal help.

When the New York Yankees signed All-Star Closer Aroldis Chapman this offseason, talk of the team’s “three-headed monster” in the bullpen, quickly began. Chapman along with top relievers RHP Dellin Betances and LHP Andrew Miller, Yankees’ fans believed that with an offensive push and a solid outing by the starters, it would be “lights out” after the sixth inning.

But, that’s not how the season is starting out, Chapman was suspended thirty games for violating Major League Baseball’s Domestic Violence Policy. To fill a void in the bullpen for the month of April, the Yankees spent Spring Training looking for at least a temporary fix. Prospect Bryan Mitchell, who worked a few innings in 2015,  shined throughout March and secured a spot on the Opening Day roster before he was placed on the DL and underwent surgery on his toe this week, forcing him to miss four months.

In the Yankees’ final Spring Training outing, Miller suffered a chip fracture to his right wrist after being hit by a ground ball. The thirty-year old was cleared to play since it’s not his pitching hand, but has yet to make his 2016 debut. Betances, has made his debut this season in the home opener against the Houston Astros but stumbled and didn’t throw some of his most dominant stuff.

Then, it’s the Detroit Tigers’ bullpen that not only struggled in 2015 but is plagued by injuries in 2016. Right-hander Alex Wilson has shoulder soreness that prevented him from pitching an entire spring training program and starting the regular season on time. LHP Blaine Hardy also has a shoulder injury and a rough spring that included eight hits and seven runs in five and one-third innings.

The Tigers did sign veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez and acquired former New York Yankees’ LHP Justin Wilson. Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan who also have experience as starters, were also added to the bullpen this season to give long relief help and Logan Kensing, Drew VerHagen and Mark Lowe are all newly added arms as well.

Can the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers hold on and find stability in theirbullpens before games get too out of hand? We’ll soon find out.

 

Bethany Cohen

Bethany Cohen

Senior Editor at Legends On Deck®
Bethany is a Graduate of the University of South Florida and currently resides in Tampa. She is a die-hard Yankees' fan and has been a freelance writer for six years. She has covered the Yankees' Minor League System since 2010 and also does freelance work for Examiner.com and CBS Local Tampa Bay. Follow her on Twitter @TampaBethany
Bethany Cohen