Chad Green’s name has been thrown out by writers and fans as a pitcher who could “open” a game for the New York Yankees during the time that Luis Severino (shoulder inflammation) and CC Sabathia (recovery from angioplasty) are on the Injured List.
In 2018, it was announced that Chad Green was going to be stretched out as a starter; however, that role never materialized as he had no games as a starter as it turned out. In 2016, Green had 8 starts with a 2-4 record, 4.73 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. He had one start in 2017, his breakout season out of the bullpen. He went two innings against the Baltimore Orioles, with a 2.41 ERA, gave up 2 ER and had a a 0.70 WHIP.
Green certainly has high win totals coming out of the bullpen. In 2017, he had a 5-0 record (with 5 holds) in 41 games out of the bullpen and sported a 1.83 ERA. In 2018, he posted an 8-3 record (with 13 holds) with a 2.50 ERA. With the lack of starting pitching depth both in ’18 and in ’19, it is no wonder that Yankee fans first think of Green when it comes to stretching out a reliever to take a starting role and be a winner.
In this case, however, according to Tom Gatto of sporting news.com, Aaron Boone may employ an opener; he told reporters on Wednesday:
“In a long stretch of games and you wanted to give a guy an extra day. [Or] you felt like it’s a little softer landing for some guys to let them start from the back end of the lineup and give them a time and a half through,” Boone said, per ESPN.com.
The Yankees may look to employ an opener, that is, a reliever who specializes in getting hitters out in high leverage situations – and what more high leverage situation is there than the first inning of a ballgame when the starting pitcher is facing the toughest hitters in the opposing club’s lineup?
Could the Yankees utilize Green as an “opener?”
What better spot for Green than the first inning of a game where his 97 mph fastball will serve as a harsh wake-up call to opposing hitters? According to Brock Hammond of pinstripealley.com, Green “was top 20 in fWAR for relievers, which was the second-best figure for a reliever without a save. Green’s 1.78 BB/9 was best on the entire Yankee staff, too.”
Green isn’t likely to walk hitters and is likely to generate swings and misses in the first inning to set the table for, perhaps Luis Cessa or Domingo German to come in and face the middle and lower parts of the order and to face the top of the order fewer times.
For now, the Yankees have said they don’t plan to look outside the organization, though that may change given the right circumstances, so expect to see Green play a key role not only out of the bullpen in high leverage situations but also at the opening of the game to set the table for what the Yankees are hoping will be success.