No-Run DMC: The Yankees Pitching Phenomenon

Over the vast winning history of the New York Yankees the management has always thought of a way to keep the right players together. That has been the winning formula for the team and they may have struck gold once again in with the talent they have in their bullpen.

After the departure of Mariano Rivera in 2013 fans knew that he was irreplaceable. Rivera the greatest closer of all-time left a hole in the pitching staff that needed to be filled.

There may never be another player like that for years to come or ever, but the Yankees have three pitchers that can get the job done. These players are a nightmare for an opposing team when the game is on the line.

These pitchers build a bridge strong enough to maintain the lead and finish the deal.

Dellin Betances

He is the beginning of the Yankee big three and he has been dominating in his role. Betances can come in and give two solid innings of work for the team and hold on to the lead. The reason he is such an important piece of this three man rotation is because of his poise on the mound.

He gets settled in fast and he does not shy away from the big moments. Although he is a relatively young pitcher, he knows how to get out of a jam like a veteran. As a relief pitcher he has shown he can take the pressure off of starter and help out the rest of the bullpen.

Andrew Miller

The former closer that has now been bumped to a relief position fits in perfectly with the game ending pitching scheme. Miller has been great both as a closer and bridge man this season, and he can always pitch a great 8th inning after Betances works the 7th.

Miller can have more confidence throwing strikes when he has a comfortable lead, but even in one or two run games he can find his rhythm and get the three outs he needs.

Being the middle man in this trio has made Miller’s job an easy one. Both Miller and Betances throw in the mid to upper 90’s, but the finisher is truly a special player.

Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees did a great job reeling this great closer via trade in the offseason. Chapman is one of the best closers in the game today. Since he is not working alone it makes his job easier because there two pitchers with closing ability in front of him.

Throwing at a top speed of 103mph it is hard for a hitter to get a good swing on the ball. Now there are players that would love to turn one of those pitches into an upper deck homerun, but Chapman backs those players off the plate when he pitches them inside.

Chapman is the anchor of this unit, and when he has to close the deal he does. Right now he has 4 saves and those numbers will keep climbing as the season goes on.

“No Run DMC”

The reason these players are so good together is because they all have the 9th inning mentality, and that is to just get three outs. They have all been in that position in the 9th closing out a game and they all had what it takes to close out.

Yankee announcer Michael Kay called them “no-run DMC” because of the initials in their names that match the rap group Run DMC, and because they have been great closing out games by not allowing runs.

All three pitchers feed off of each other and that is what makes them so great. If the Yankee offense can find some consistency they could wind up in the playoffs. This is the type of pitching that can win a championship.

Who Are MLB’s Most Dominant Relievers?

(Photo Courtesy of ESPN)

Not every dominant reliever gets the opportunity to close ballgames

Last season dominant relievers emerged for a few different teams around the game of baseball, while other relief pitchers extended their dominance for another season.  Anytime a relief pitcher has the opportunity to strike out 100 batters in a single season, they have positioned themselves as one of the best in the game for that season, with a chance to sustain that success in future seasons.  Not all of these relievers are the closers for their teams however, with some of these pitchers being on the same team as other relievers who were able to strike out 100 batters out of the bullpen .  Despite not reaching the 100 strikeout total in 2014, Braves’ closer Craig Kimbrel once again had a dominant season to put him among the league’s top relief pitchers.  Two players now under contract with the Yankees, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances both reached the 100 strikeout total in dominant efforts out of the bullpen last season.  Other relievers to reach the 100 strikeout total in dominant seasons included Kansas City’s Wade Davis, Tampa Bay’s Brad Boxberger, Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman and Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen.  Jake Diekman of the Philadelphia Phillies also reached the 100 strikeout total, but with an elevated earned runs average and walks plus hits per inning pitched rate, his season was not on the dominant level of the other relief pitcher’s mentioned.  Other relief pitchers who did not reach the 100 strikeout total, but registered dominant seasons, include Tampa Bay’s Jake McGee, Cleveland’s Cody Allen, Oakland’s Sean Doolittle, Kansas City’s Greg Holland, Washington’s Tyler Clippard and Pittsburgh’s Tony Watson.  A further look at the accomplishments of some of these dominant relievers will help to determine which of these pitchers are among the game’s elite.

Dellin Betances

Betances put himself in the conversation among the league’s elite with an absolutely spectacular performance in his first MLB season that included 135 strikeouts.  A big time fastball that he complemented with a fantastic knuckle curveball, allowed Betances to perform at an elite level as a relief pitcher who often pitched multiple innings in 2014.  All the strikeouts were able to keep Betances earned runs average at 1.40 for the season, as batters rarely were able to square up pitches against him to drive in runs.  With only 24 walks in 90 innings of work, Betances was not giving the opposition any help as he was able to limit his walks plus hits per inning pitched rate to 0.78 over his 2014 season .  This excellent work in relief put Betances immediately among the game’s best relievers, even though 2014 was just his first season in the big leagues.  Betances was not used in the Yankees’ closer role in 2014, and even after the departure of David Robertson this past offseason, Betances is not guaranteed the role of being the closer with Andrew Miller joining the team as a free agent.

Craig Kimbrel

Even after a season in which he was not able to reach the 100 strikeout total, Craig Kimbrel’s track record allows him to be considered the best relief pitcher in baseball.  The Braves’ closer was fantastic again in 2014, as he registered 47 saves in just 51 attempts for Atlanta last season to go along with his 95 strikeouts in 61 and one-third innings of work .  A 1.61 earned runs average and 0.91 walks plus hits per inning pitched rate, tells the whole story about how difficult it was to square up pitches in an effort to drive in runs against Craig Kimbrel last season.  With multiple seasons in the past where Kimbrel registered 100 strikeouts, the Braves’ closer has put together an extended run where he has been the best relief pitcher in the game of baseball.

Wade Davis

Another setup man is added to this list of dominant relievers after Wade Davis was able to put together a season in which he registered a 1.00 earned runs average over 72 innings pitched in 2014.  Things have not always gone so well for Davis in the past when he was a starting pitcher, but with a 0.85 walks plus hits per innings pitched rate in his first season as a reliever, Davis may have finally found his permanent role .  Davis was able to put together this spectacular season by limiting his walks to just 23 over his 72 innings pitched, while striking out 109 batters for a strikeout per nine rate of 13.6.  Even though 2014 was Wade Davis’s first full season where he did not make a single start, his performance was good enough to put him among the best relief pitchers in baseball heading into the 2015 season.

Greg Holland

The Kansas City Royals’ closer is also a part of this list after he put up one of the best seasons of his career in a fantastic 2014 season for the Royals’ bullpen.  Just a season removed from registering 103 strikeouts, Greg Holland was able to register 90 strikeouts in 2014 to complete a third straight season where he registered 90 or more strikeouts as the Royals’ closer .  With an earned runs average of 1.44 and a walks plus hits per inning pitched rate of 0.91, Greg Holland added to the totals that previously had him among MLB’s best relief pitchers in the past.  With only 20 walks in 62 and one-third innings pitched, Holland made opposing hitters earn their way on base against him in a season where he saved 46 games in 48 opportunities.  Great command of an upper 90s fastball and a wipeout slider, is what makes Greg Holland one of the most feared relief pitchers in the game of baseball today.

What do these four relief pitchers have in common?

These four relief pitchers have all put on display great command of two plus pitches over the duration of last season.  An upper 90s fastball that can touch 100 MPH on the radar gun, is something that each one of these dominant relievers lean on for their fantastic success in the late innings for their teams.  Whether it is a curveball or slider, all four of these pitchers have at least one plus secondary pitch to show opposing hitters a change of pace after strategically locating their blazing fastballs.  All of the relievers mentioned in the introduction possess similar traits to these four fantastic pitchers who were highlighted, but the four given the most attention to are the pitchers who displayed a mastery of their craft this past season.  The other dominant relief pitchers mentioned in the introduction, could soon join these four among MLB’s elite who make appearances out of the bullpen.  The Philadelphia Phillies with Jake Diekman striking out 100 batters last season, could add a second candidate to this list for next season.  Their current setup man Ken Giles, has been able to put on display some of the ability that makes the most dominant relievers to be great.  With more teams realizing the importance of having young power arms pitching in the late innings, baseball fans are in for a show with more pitchers such as those mentioned above, in position to make appearances for MLB teams in the near future.

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