Buried deep in a post about the next Yankees pitching move after acquiring lefty James Paxton from Seattle was an interesting note from Joel Sherman: the Yankees are interested in dominant reliever Adam Ottavino.
Brian Cashman has already said his offseason master plan includes adding two relievers, and it’s easy to see where the Brooklyn-native would fit for the Yankees. In 75 appearances in 2018, the righty registered a 2.43 ERA (2.74 FIP) and ridiculous 13.0 K/9 in 77⅔ innings as Wade Davis‘s setup man in Colorado. He allowed just five home runs in that span, and only two came at Coors Field.
Ottavino’s repertoire on the mound is rather diverse for a late-inning reliever, with Statcast indicating he throws five pitches: Slider (46.8%), Sinker (41.6%), Cutter (9.8%), Four Seamer (1.6%), Changeup (0.2%). That falls into place perfectly with the Yankees anti-fastball approach. Oh, and that slider is tied for the best slider in baseball amongst relievers, per Fangraphs. Ottavino shares that with Collin McHugh of the Houston Astros. Fangraphs also says that 79.3% of plate appearances against him end in either a strikeout or a ground ball.
The combination of power breaking-ball, ground balls and strikeouts certainly makes Ottavino an appealing option for the back-end of the Yankee bullpen. With Zach Britton and David Robertson hitting free agency and likely receiving offers as closers, Ottavino’s non-closer status could help the Yankees land him for less. His ability to get ground balls and strikeouts would be huge for the back of the bullpen.