As the entire world knows, closer Mariano Rivera tore a knee ligament in May and is now being forced to watch from the sidelines.
With 608 career saves, Rivera is easily the greatest closer to ever to play the game. So you would think that his absence would be devastating or, at the very least, have a negative impact. However, not only are the New York Yankees tied for the best record in baseball at 60-40, with an 8.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, but they are surviving on the mound.
Rafael Soriano has stepped in to fill Rivera's role as the closer and has exceeded expectations. Rivera's shoe are too big to fill, but Soriano already has 26 saves on the year and has only blown two save opportunities.
Other members of the bullpen, such as Boone Logan, have contributed solid production as well. Logan is leading all Yankees relievers with 48 game appearances and is second in strikeouts with 42, just one behind Soriano.
With such solid production, there isn't a need for the Yankees to approach the deadline with desperation, but there is still room for marginal improvement.
Rafael Betancourt Could Take Bullpen To Next Level
We know the Yankees can hit, especially if they find a suitable substitute for the injured Alex Rodriguez, who broke his hand this past week. And since four of their five starting pitchers have already reached double-digit win totals, it's safe to say they can pitch as well.
But an improvement in the bullpen, to go along with Soriano and Logan, would not only put the bullpen in an ideal position, it also would put the Yankees over the top.
With the trade deadline approaching on July 31, the best option at this time is Rafael Betancourt.
According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the right-handed Betancourt has been attracting interest from the Yankees.
Betancourt has come on strong for the Colorado Rockies in 2012. He has 17 saves in 21 opportunities and has maintained a 2.92 ERA.
Soriano, Logan and Betancourt would create a trio capable of salvaging most situations late in the game. And when the Yankees inevitably make the postseason, they'll have that extra reassurance if a starter crumbles early on due to the pressure.
There's not an immediate need, so the Yankees have the luxury of backing off if Betancourt's price tag is too much. But if the cost is reasonable, the opportunity is too much to ignore.