One of the Yankees‘ strengths on a yearly basis is their bullpen, but the starting rotation could use a bit more support after missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto and parting ways with three players.
Both Luis Severino and Frankie Montas signed free agent deals to pitch elsewhere, with the latest being Montas, who inked a one-year, $16 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.
There were several reports indicating that the Yankees could bring back Montas on a short-term contract, but his price tag was a bit lofty coming off a season where he pitched just 1.1 innings following shoulder surgery. Now, the Yankees have to continue looking for more support, but their bullpen seems to be flush with talent.
Focusing on one of their high-upside arms, Ian Hamilton is a 28-year-old with a unique skill set. Hamilton was scooped up in 2023 after pitching 2.2 innings for the Minnesota Twins in 2022.
Hamilton ended up tossing 58 innings for the Yankees this past season, recording a 2.64 ERA, 2.82 FIP, and 10.71 strikeouts per nine, including a 77.2% left-on-base rate and an impressive 55.3% ground ball rate. Hamilton generates weak contact and doesn’t give up many home runs, earning his way into a high-leverage relief role.
In fact, the most exciting part about Hamilton is that he put together a tremendous season with just one year under his belt as a Yankee, and the team has control over his services until 2029. He’s only accumulated 1.126 years of service time, meaning the Yanks have him locked in at a shallow price point for years to come.
Last season, Hamilton was elite before suffering a groin injury, supplementing a tough start for Jhony Brito and having to answer the call on short notice without much time to warm up. He ended up leaving the game as well with an injury, but he ranked in the 94th percentile in whiff rate and 92nd percentile in ground ball rate.
There are plenty of reasons to believe Hamilton will run back another fantastic season, but his pitch sequence is all you need to see to justify that assumption. Hamilton has a four-seam fastball, slider, and sinker. However, his slider is also referenced as a “slambio,” a combination of a slider and change-up.
That specific pitch was thrown 54.2% of the time last season and produced a .156 batting average against with a 42.5% whiff rate. This is a special pitch not many have in their arsenal and one that opposing batters find incredibly difficult to make contact with.
If Hamilton can take a step forward with his sinker, a pitch that produced a .378 batting average against, he may be unstoppable this upcoming season and at an incredibly cheap price point. The Yankees are lucky to have stumbled upon his services and continued his development into one of their best arms on the roster.