Yankees Strike Gold with Surprise Bullpen Find! - footballivenews
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Yankees Strike Gold with Surprise Bullpen Find!

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The New York Yankees continue to await the return of several pitchers from injury; nevertheless, they maintain the second-best earned run average (ERA) in baseball at 2.86, trailing only the Cleveland Guardians.

Despite a lack of significant investment in the bullpen, pitching coach Matt Blake has once again demonstrated that strategic coaching can triumph over high-profile salaries. A prime example of this is Michael Tonkin, a 34-year-old right-handed relief pitcher who has faced considerable struggles in recent seasons.

Indeed, Tonkin commenced his 2024 season with the New York Mets before briefly pitching for the Minnesota Twins and ultimately landing with the Yankees, where he has logged 17.2 innings with an impressive 1.02 ERA.

Last season, Tonkin posted a 4.28 ERA over 80 innings with the Atlanta Braves. However, under Blake’s guidance, his pitch sequence has been adjusted to facilitate a more efficient performance. Despite accumulating 253 major league innings throughout his career, Tonkin had not pitched in the majors for five years until last season.

Since joining the Yankees, Tonkin has demonstrated proficiency in utilizing his sinker more effectively, even experiencing a decrease in spin rate, which has potentially contributed to enhanced accuracy rather than solely relying on movement. Notably, his slider has yielded a batting average of .091 in June, while his sinker has limited opponents to a .200 average.

Players like Tonkin prove invaluable to the Yankees, especially considering their substantial investments in other positions, which restrict their ability to make significant investments in relief pitching. Thus, having a cost-efficient bullpen unit that ranks among the top two in ERA is indeed remarkable and deserving of greater recognition.

In a recent game against the Dodgers, the Yankees entrusted Tonkin with a crucial moment to thwart Shohei Ohtani’s impact on the game, a task he accomplished with ease. Tonkin pitched 1.2 innings, striking out two batters and allowing only one hit. His solid performance is instilling confidence in the Yankees regarding his ability to deliver in high-pressure situations.

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