Thornton will have chance to make big impact out of Yankees bullpen

Veteran reliever likely to face opponents' tough lefty hitters
02/21/2014 9:59 AM ET
By Doug Williams

Background: Matt Thornton is a hard-throwing, veteran lefty reliever from Three Rivers, Michigan. He's pitched for three teams in his 10-year career, amassing an ERA of just 3.53 over that time.

2013 Season: Thornton pitched for both the White Sox and Red Sox last season. Combined with both teams, he finished with a 3.74 ERA in 43.1 innings. Despite the Red Sox winning the world series, it was a disappointing finish to the season for Thornton who was left off the playoff roster by Boston. He finished with a career low in strikeouts per nine innings with just 6.2.

Greatest Strength: Thornton's greatest strength is without question his consistent ability to get lefties out. Despite last season being a tumultuous one for Thornton, he still held lefties to a .235 average against him. And during his career, lefties have hit just .233.

Greatest Weakness: Although he still finished with an ERA below 4.00 last season, Thornton's numbers seem to be on a steady decline. His innings pitched have decreased in each of the last three seasons, as have his strikeouts per nine innings.

Prediction: Considering Boone Logan is gone, Matt Thornton appears to be the new go-to guy in the Yankee bullpen to face tough lefties. That being said, the Yankees will need him to stay healthy and to be durable. If that's the case, expect Thornton to throw 50+ innings with around a 3.75 ERA-which is exactly what they would have hoped for from Logan.

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