The New York Yankees have been known for their elite bullpen for a while. They have superstar closer Aroldis Chapman, flamethrowers Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, the filthy Adam Ottavino, and the sinker specialist Zack Britton. In the mix are young arms Jonathon Loasiga who throws heat and the crafty swingman Jordan Montgomery. It’s safe to say that the Yankees bullpen is loaded and that they are ready to be lights out next year. The interesting thing is that Yankees RHP Luis Cessa often finds himself left out, however, he’s more than just an expendable arm.
When the Yankees acquired Luis Cessa back in 2015, it was alongside another RHP, Chad Green. In 2016 they both came up for the Yankees later in the season as both starters and relievers. At first, it seemed that Cessa would be the more promising pitcher, he had pitched more innings and to the tune of a lower ERA and WHIP in 2016. This all changed come 2017, as Chad Green broke out and Cessa hadn’t done much at all. Since 2017 it’s been clear who was the better arm:
Chad Green (2017-2019):
Luis Cessa (2017-2019)
Cessa’s been overshadowed by Chad Green ever since he got to New York, but it shouldn’t take away from his potential.
A Premier Slider
Luis Cessa has one of the most underrated sliders in baseball, a pitch that he needs to utilize as much as he can. His slider is the key to his success, as in 2019, his slider had hitters only hitting .204 against it with a .402 SLG against. His expected stats were even better, with a .189 xBA and .308 xSLG. He used his slider 49.9% of the time in 2019, the most he’s ever used his slider in a season. The result? A 4.11 ERA, the lowest of his career and a career-high 8.3 K/9 in 2019. His slider is a fantastic pitch, however, the issue is that he doesn’t have much other than that.
Crushing His Fastball
While he does throw a 94.6 MPH fastball on average, opponents crush it. In 2019 opponents hit .318 with a .506 SLG against, which isn’t at all good. The issue seems to be that he’s always relied on pitching to contact, and that means his fastball is being thrown with the goal of making contact. Cessa’s fastball may seem hopeless, however, it has an above-average spin rate that put him at the 58th percentile in 2019. It also breaks pretty well, with a 0.2-inch vertical movement above average and 1.3-inch horizontal movement above average. With new hire Matt Blake as the pitching coach, we could see Cessa’s fastball be used as a strikeout pitch. Creating a more modern approach to the game, we could see Matt Blake turn a fastball that was unusable into a reliable pitch to complement a devastating slider.
Projections For 2020
I believe Luis Cessa will have a career season in 2020, and while he may not be a superstar reliever, he’ll be a reliable arm the Yankees would love to have. If he has a career year in 2020, his stats could look like this:
Do you disagree with these predictions? How will Cessa’s 2020 go? Spring Training is coming ever closer, and we’ll be able to see how Cessa will perform in 2020.