NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees may have issues in their rotation heading into the 2016 season, but their bullpen looks on paper like it could be incredible, perhaps even historic.
Just ask Brian McCann and Andrew Miller.
Speaking to the Daily News at the 36th annual Thurman Munson Awards on Tuesday night at the Grand Hyatt, where they were being honored, the Yankees’ catcher and reliever raved about Chapman, the hard-throwing left-hander who was acquired from Cincinnati earlier this offseason.
Chapman has already been named closer by manager Joe Girardi, despite Miller having a tremendous 2015 season with 36 saves in 38 chances and a 2.04 ERA in 60 appearances. But that’s understandable when considering that the Cuban southpaw routinely throws more than 100 mph and is as difficult to face as any pitcher in baseball.
“You don’t see it,” McCann said of Chapman’s fastball, which has been clocked at 104 mph. “You have to swing right when the ball is about to be released, and your chances then are slim. He’s dominant. He’s one of those guys that when he comes into the game, the other team feels it’s over. And we have three of those guys. We’re excited.”
McCann was referring to the Bombers’ lethal trio of Chapman, Miller and Dellin Betances, three power arms that get outs quickly, usually via the strikeout. With the Yankees having a rotation that is littered with question marks, lessening the burden on starters to pitch late into games appears to be the blueprint drawn up by general manager Brian Cashman and Girardi.
“Depending on how you want to use those guys, you can throw them two innings and give them a day off or you can go 7-8-9,” McCann said. “You can arguably say they’re the three best bullpen arms in the game and we have them on our team. We’re extremely excited about that.”
Miller was initially a subject of trade rumors this offseason, but it now appears that he’s staying put and will once again be a vital cog at the back end of the bullpen, either as a set-up man, situational lefty or fill-in closer, on the days that Chapman needs a rest.
Miller told WFAN recently that he doesn’t feel slighted by what could be viewed as a demotion, adding he just wants to win, something the Yankees have struggled to do to their lofty standards of late as they have not won more than 90 games since 2012.
“Certainly they felt like more firepower can help us reach the goals, and if that’s what it takes to get there, then I’m all for it,” Miller told Mike Francesa on Feb. 3.
“I’ve told people all along that there’s no résumé that I’m building. I’m not worried about some sort of milestone or Hall of Fame case,” Miller added. “I’m just trying to go out there and win, and I think at the end of my career, I’ll appreciate the winning teams I was on and hopefully having some rings to look back on.”
Acquired for four players from the Reds back in December, Chapman recorded 145 saves over the past four seasons and had a 1.63 ERA in 2015.
“Chapman is a special arm,” Miller said. “If he helps us win games, that’s definitely the goal and it’s a good thing.”