The Yankees have two relievers who can close, but neither should

BY foxsports • December 9, 2014

The Yankees were able to reel in the highly coveted Andrew Miller on a four-year deal worth $36 million. Assumptions were made that they would still retain their closer from a year ago, David Robertson. That ship sailed when Robertson signed with the Chicago White Sox.

So now the Yankees have two viable closing options in Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Betances and Miller both have hellacious stuff and wreaked havoc on opposing American League hitters in 2014. Both have the velo and bring you the swings and misses you desire from a closer, but neither should close. Combined the two have pitched in 270 major league games as relievers and have a grand total of two saves, one each.

  Betances Miller
K/9 13.5 (4) 14.9 (1)
FBv 96.6 (2) 93.9 (22)
K% 39.6% (3) 42.6% (1)
K/BB 5.6 (6) 6.1 (4)
FIP 1.64 (3) 1.51 (2)

* In parentheses is AL rank among qualified relievers, according to FanGraphs.

You've heard this before, the last three outs of a game can be different and closing is not for everyone. Could Betances and Miller be closers? Probably, but why mess with a good thing?

But this is not about questioning whether Betances or Miller can close. These are two excellent setup men that bring so much value to a bullpen with what they did last year. The smart play is to keep them in same roles from 2014 to maximize that value.

As super relievers€ or €œrelief aces€, Joe Girardi would have the freedom to use both guys when the game mattered the most. I have often said you want your best arms available for games up by five runs or down by two. That includes tie games. As much as managers try, if they name a closer, they can'€™t help but only use him up by three runs or less only and rarely in tie games. Using either of these guys as a closer minimizes opportunities and cuts into their total innings and games pitched.

There aren't many good closers out on the market, but I'd do one of two things if I were Brian Cashman: I'€™d sign Francisco Rodriquez or trade for Jonathan Papelbon. Then I'€™d let my two best relievers, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, do all the heavy lifting.


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