Projected 2004 Bullpen:
MR: Felix Heredia, LHP
MR: Gabe White, LHP
MR: Paul Quantrill, RHP
MR: Steve Karsay, RHP
SU: Tom Gordon, RHP
CL: Mariano Rivera, RHP
Other names to know: Jorge DePaula, Ramon Ramirez, Scott Proctor, Brett Prinz,
Felix Heredia, Opening Day Age 28
Heredia and former Reds castoff White will be the only lefties in the
bullpen to start the Yankees' season. Depending on how you look at it,
this is a positive thing. Heredia is very capable most of the time.
He can sometimes be prone to bouts of wildness, but he is generally an effective
pitcher. Heredia is tough on lefties and is likely to be used in
situational roles in 2004. A cause for concern is Heredia's falling
strikeout rates, which hit a career-low at 4.7 K/9 in 2003. This is
possibly the result of an increased workload (he set a career-high with 87
innings), which also includes the fact that 2003 was the first year in which
Heredia threw significantly more innings than he appeared in game (he averaged
1.1 innings per appearance, also a career-high).
Gabe White, Age 32
A shoddy 4.38 ERA after he arrived in the Bronx last season disguises a
fantastic .182 opponent's batting average and 0.81 WHIP for White. He was
allowing very few baserunners as a Yankee, but a sizeable amount of them were
scoring (probably because two of the eight hits he allowed were homers).
White is a workhorse, consistently appearing in over 65 games per season.
Expect the same from him this season, as he will probably be Torre's first lefty
option out of the pen.
Paul Quantrill, Age 35
Quantrill Is Sure To
See Some Innings
If White is a workhorse, Quantrill re-defines the term. He appeared in
89 games for the Dodgers last season, and put up dazzling numbers to boot.
A 1.75 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .227 ERA are hard to come by, particularly over such a
large sample of innings. Quantrill will probably the top middle reliever
in the pen in 2004, and will make as many appearances as necessary. He
features a sinker ball that is devastating to lefties and righties alike and
induces a lot of ground balls. Expect to see Quantrill come into games
with a man on first base when a double-play ball is needed.
Steve Karsay, Age 32
Karsay was one of the important pieces of the bullpen in 2003 that was
injured. After a very productive 2002, Karsay was forced to sit out for
all of last year due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. He isn't
projected to be on the Opening Day roster, but should join the team soon into
the season. In '02, Karsay was Mariano Rivera's primary setup man, even
notching a few saves when Rivera was injured. One of the better strikeout
pitchers in the pen, Karsay could be used in tight situations that call for a
whiff. This guy is definitely a dark horse for the Yankees. With
him, the bullpen will be among the best in the league. Without him, things
could start resembling 2003 all over again.
Tom Gordon, Age 36
Gordon Will Be The
Bridge To Rivera
"Flash" will be the bridge to Rivera that the Yankees so sorely
lacked in 2003. A number of pitchers attempted the job, including Chris
Hammond, Antonio Osuna and Jeff Nelson, but all failed. Gordon is a former
closer and an extremely capable pitcher. The best thing he brings to the
table is his ability to strike batters out at almost a Gagne-like pace.
With 91 strikeouts in only 74 innings last season, Gordon is almost guaranteed
to fan a batter when he gets on the mound. Flash's best pitch is his
curveball, which is absolutely sick to watch. It comes over the top and
drops down, 12-6, turning the knees of an opposing batter to jelly. It's
quite fun to watch, I recommend doing so at some point.
Mariano Rivera, Age 34
The best closer in recent memory returned to greatness in 2003. Most
people had written him off as a tender pitcher that needed to be handled with
kid gloves, but Rivera just shut everyone up with his best ERA ever. Had
he not missed the first month of the season, 45 saves would have been almost
guaranteed. The saves may not come easily in '04, as the Yankees might
just blow everyone out, but Rivera's in a contract year, so he'll be
effective. And when the postseason comes, and the bullpen door opens,
opposing teams should just abandon hope.
These guys are basically players that should see some time in the 'pen in
2004, but aren't guaranteed to stick around. Jorge DePaula should be
familiar to most Yankee fans, as he spent some time with the club last year
(including an excellent start), and he is widely considered the most
major-league-ready of the Yankee minor leaguers. DePaula will be the
player to step into the rotation as well should an injury befall one of the
Yankees' starters. Ramon Ramirez is an interesting prospect. He's a
converted outfielder that led the Arizona Fall League in ERA and strikeouts this
past fall. Scott Proctor is a flamethrower acquired from the Dodgers in
the Robin Ventura deal. He has excellent upside and could start the season
in the majors in place of Karsay. Prinz was acquired from Arizona for Raul Mondesi and has a good arm, but not a whole lot else. Borrell is the top
lefty in the system, and should see time later in the season.
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