Did the Yankees strike gold with one young relief pitcher?

New York Yankees, Nick Nelson

The New York Yankees secured the series went over the Boston Red Sox in their victory on Saturday evening. The Yankees won by a score of 5-1, on the back of Gio Urshela, who hit a grand slam. That is the second consecutive game the Yankees have hit a grand slam, with Luke Voit taking the Red Sox yard on Friday evening.

To start the matchup, Masahiro Tanaka took the mound after being hit in the head by 112 MPH line drive. If there’s anyone in the MLB that you don’t want to take a comebacker from, it is Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton consistently ranks in the top of the league in exit velocity, and the fact Tanaka was able to return and pitch just a few weeks later is heroic. Being hit in the head by a ball going that fast could kill someone, and he experienced just minor concussion symptoms and managed to begin working out just a few days after the incident.

Tanaka was on a strict pitch count, limiting him to just 2.2 innings. He allowed four hits and one earned run, striking out three batters. It was a solid debut performance for Tanaka, and getting some live action under his belt will prove to be significant moving forward.

The New York Yankees watched a star emerge:

However, the most exciting pitcher on the night was Nick Nelson, who pitched three scoreless and hitless innings. He racked up four strikeouts over 41 pitches. Interestingly, he had a strike/ball ratio of about 50%, which attests the movement he had on his pitches.

At 24 years old, this was Nelson’s first action in the Major Leagues. He spent time with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Trenton, and Tampa last year. The majority of his time was in AA ball with Trenton, recording 7-2 record with a 2.35 ERA and 83 strikeouts. Evidently, his progression allowed him to secure a relief job for the Yankees, and he didn’t let his opportunity go to waste. This was his first victory at the top of the food chain, and with Tommy Kahnle going down and needing Tommy John surgery, his emergence couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.

Hopefully, he can continue developing and showing consistency during the 2020 season. He tends to rely on his fastball predominantly, throwing it 63.4% of the time against the Red Sox, his change-up 26.8% of the time, curveball 4.9%, and slider 4.9%.

His top two pitches are fantastic, and he mixes in a few curves and sliders to throw hitters off. I fully expect to see more of Nelson moving forward with Kahnle out for the rest of the season.