Did the Yankees stumble upon an unknown bullpen gem?

Alexander Wilson
Mar 14, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Lucas Luetge (63) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fourth inning at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have been pleasantly surprised by their pitching this spring; especially they’re starting rotation we’re just taking form weeks before the start of the regular season.

Despite a few injuries, specifically to Clarke Schmidt and Zack Britton, the Yankees seem to be in stellar shape as Opening Day nears. They will eventually gain both back and Luis Severino during the summer. The team earned a well-deserved break on Thursday, winning eight consecutive games leading up to a Friday contest against the Philadelphia Phillies. They recently overcame Philadelphia 4-2, with Domingo German posting six strikeouts and allowing zero runs over four innings.

However, while the big guys normally gain all the attention and media headlines, one low-key bullpen arm has looked phenomenal this spring. While he only has a small 6.1 inning sample size under his belt, he’s struck out 13 batters and allowed just four hits, not giving up a run. Of course, this player is Lucas Luetge, and surprisingly, he hasn’t featured in the MLB since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners.

The last time Luetge enjoyed more than 30 innings in a given season was in 2013 with Seattle, when he hosted a 4.86 ERA and a dismal 6.57 strikeouts per nine. For whatever reason, the 34-year-old relief arm has laid on the heat in his six appearances.

With Britton requiring surgery to remove a chipped bone in his elbow, it is possible the Yankees elevate Luetge to the active roster in the next few weeks, allowing him to transfer some of his spring production over to the regular season. This will be the first time in five years he’s pitched at the MLB level, and what a story would be.

On Wednesday afternoon, though, Lucas took an additional step forward, being called upon to shut down the Phillies in their final at-bats. He struck out two batters, bringing his spring total to 15 and sample size to  7.1 scoreless innings.

The Yankees might have found a gem in this unknown pitcher, and hopefully, he can make an impact when the games really matter.