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Reinforcements on the way for the Yankees bullpen

Reinforcements on the way for the Yankees bullpen

The Yankees bullpen has been solid so far, but there is certainly room for improvement. Fortunately for them, reinforcements are on the way.

On Wednesday, Aaron Boone said Nick Burdi could join the team as early as Friday when the Yankees begin a three-game series in Tampa. The hard-throwing right-hander has a 0.00 ERA over 6.1 innings this season, but he hasn’t pitched in a major league game since April 16 due to hip inflammation.

Burdi pitched in a Triple-A rehab game Tuesday, striking out the team in his only inning of work.

With Burdi expected back soon, Michael Tonkin’s spot in the bullpen could be in jeopardy.

The Yankees may have to make a tougher decision in a few weeks, as Tommy Kahnle began a rehab assignment with Single-A Tampa on Wednesday. Boone said the right-hander will appear in at least two rehab games for Tampa before seeing his assignment transferred to one of the Yankees’ high-profile northern affiliates, Double-A Somerset or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The plan is for Kahnle to hold at least five rehab games. His throwing program had been delayed several times since the start of spring training after his 2023 season ended with shoulder inflammation.

“I’m excited to get it going, obviously,” Boone said. “I know he’s been in a pretty good position here for the last few weeks.”

The addition of Burdi and, possibly, Kahnle should benefit the Yankees’ bullpen, which had the best ERA (2.22) and best batting average (.193) in baseball as of Wednesday morning. In addition to closer Clay Holmes, the group relies on Caleb Ferguson, Victor González, Ian Hamilton, Luke Weaver, Dennis Santana and Ron Marinaccio.

“I’m very happy with the way everyone came together there and did their job,” Boone said. “They did it very well. And it’s not necessarily with everyone in the perfect spot, locked in, throwing at their best. But they all really, really contributed in different ways to winning situations. So it’s been really nice.

That said, the Yankees pen could be better in many ways. For example, the unit ranked 18th in BB% (9.3), 19th in xFIP (4.23), 25th in K% (20.3) and 29th in marked inherited runners (24).

There have certainly been some bumps in the road, which Boone acknowledged. However, the returns of Burdi, Kahnle and other rehabbers could change the dynamics of the bullpen going forward.

“As more guys get into the mix, hopefully that will allow you to be a more perfect bullpen in the future,” Boone said.