The Yankees Are Overwhelmingly Powerful by Dave Cameron October 4, 2017 As expected, the Yankees beat the Twins in the AL Wild Card game last night. Unexpectedly, they won by asking four relievers to get 26 outs after Luis Severino couldn’t get out of the first inning. And in that victory, it was essentially impossible to not notice the difference in power between the two clubs. Aaron Judge is the game’s most powerful player, so New York always has some kind of lead when it comes to raw strength, but this team isn’t defined just by their hulking right fielder. This Yankees team is built around power everywhere. Brett Gardner, who came up as as speed-and-defense specialist, hit a home run into the second deck in right field. Didi Gregorius, who the team acquired as a fielding-first shortstop, launched a three run bomb of his own to tie the game after Severino put them in a hole. And Judge, of course, did Aaron Judge things to the baseball. Six of the Yankees eight runs scored on the long ball. But the team’s primary display of power came on the mound. After Severino — the starter with the highest average fastball velocity this season — got chased in the first inning, Joe Girardi turned to Chad Green to shut the door on the Twins and keep the game close. And Green did exactly that, striking out the first four batters he faced, showing why he had become one of the team’s most trusted bullpen arms. When Green ran into trouble in the third inning, in came David Robertson, who then struck out 5 of the 13 batters he faced in his longest career relief outing. Tommy Kahnle then came in to get seven outs himself before Aroldis Chapman finished the game by striking out the side. In total, the four Yankee relievers struck out 13 of the 33 batters they faced, a nifty little 40% strikeout rate. And they did it with overwhelming velocity. The Yankees threw 171 pitches in last night’s game, and Statcast had the average velocity of all their pitches at 93.1 mph. That isn’t their fastball velocity; that includes every breaking ball and off-speed pitch they threw. If we exclude all the bendy pitches, the average velocity of a Yankee fastball last night was 97.1 mph. The Twins didn’t throw a single fastball that hard all night. The 60 pitches with the most velocity thrown last night were all thrown by the Yankees. This is a pitching staff unlike we’ve ever seen before. There’s more velocity than there has ever been in baseball, of course, so even the Twins throw harder than most teams in prior years, but no one has ever stacked this kind of velocity in their bullpen and forced their opponents to confront a never-ending string of power arms. They won’t be able to do this every game. Given that Green, Robertson, and Kahnle faced 29 hitters between them, all three might unavailable in the first game of the ALDS against Cleveland. And no one else in the rotation throws as hard as Severino, so their velocity will tone down just due to the nature of changing starters. But if Robertson needs a night off, that just means the team will have to see how Dellin Betances‘ command is doing. Betances’ average fastball this year was 99 mph, and he’s been one of the game’s elite relievers for a few years now, but the team’s absurd depth of arms gives them the luxury of using Betances in relatively lower leverage situations until they see him show off better command that he’s had of late. Betances, an established elite reliever with his own top-shelf velocity, is now something like the fifth guy on Joe Girardi’s reliever depth chart. The Twins gave it their best shot, but they just didn’t have the arms the Yankees have. When Ervin Santana got chased from the game, they had to piece the other seven innings together with guys who throw regular-hard, not extra-super-hard like the Yankees had. And in the end, the Twins were just never going to win a bullpen battle with New York. The Indians might be able to, since they have their own crazy deep collection of guys who can dominate. And the rest of their team is strong enough that they might not need to get into a bullpen battle at all. Especially because they taxed their best four relievers in the Wild Card game, the Yankees shouldn’t assume they’ll be able to repeat last night’s performance in the division series. But it felt impossible to watch last night’s game and not see the Yankees as an imposing threat to everyone they face. They’re the most powerful team we’ve ever seen, and last night, they just overpowered their opponents. It probably won’t be the last time they do that this October.