Posted on January 17, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Adam Ottavino
Image via sportingnews.com

The New York Yankees are at it again, adding to an already stellar bullpen. On Thursday, the Yankees agreed to terms with reliever Adam Ottavino. The deal is worth a reported $27 million over three seasons. Ottavino figures to become just another quality setup man in what on paper is one of the best bullpens in baseball.

After making a cameo appearance in the big leagues with the Cardinals in 2010, Ottavino has spent the last seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies. While he has just 17 major league wins to his name, the 33-year old Ottavino was remarkably consistent during his time in Colorado. He owns a career ERA of 3.68, which is impressive for any pitcher who has spent most of his career calling Coors Field home. More importantly, he’s coming off arguably his best season. In 2018, Ottavino posted a 2.43 ERA while also collecting six saves and 34 holds for the Rockies.

Last year’s performance was a great sign from Ottavino, who missed time in both 2015 and 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He also endured a rough 2017 campaign in which he posted a 5.06 ERA. However, his 2018 performance was a return to his pre-surgery form, indicating that he’s fully back from the surgery and should have a few more good seasons ahead of him.

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Ottavino figures to be one of New York’s primary setup men for closer Aroldis Chapman. Dellin Betances and Zach Britton will also be used frequently in late-game situations. That group of relievers, along with David Robertson, gave the Yankees one of the best bullpens in baseball last season. With Ottavino essentially replacing Robertson, who signed with the Phillies earlier this offseason, the Yankees are expecting similar results in 2019. If that weren’t enough, the Yankees also have Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, and Jonathan Holder lined up for spots in their bullpen, giving them an incredible amount of depth.

During his career, Ottavino has been particularly tough on right-handed hitters. Between the velocity on his fastball and movement on his slider, righties only hit .142 against him last year. That should make him a nice complement to lefties like Chapman and Britton in New York’s bullpen. At the same time, left-handed hitters batted just .179 against Ottavino last season, so he should have no trouble crossing over and getting batters out from both sides of the plate.

Of course, the signing of Ottavino, as well as re-signing Britton, will have a long-term impact on the Yankees. With Betances set for free agency next offseason, the Yankees need to be prepared to lose him. With both Ottavino and Britton signing three-year deals, the club should be able to avoid a drastic drop-off in bullpen productivity in the years to come.

In the meantime, the Yankees are set up to have a dominant bullpen in 2019. New York’s bullpen had the third-best ERA in the American League last season. With virtually everyone back except Robertson and now Ottavino coming aboard, there’s little doubt the Yankees will have one of the premier bullpens in baseball this year.

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