After a surprisingly strong Spring Training, the New York Yankees signed 34-year-old Lucas Luetge to the 40-man roster with a spot on the Opening Day squad. Luetge hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners and had spent time bouncing between different organizations up until then.
The Yankees didn’t really have any expectations for Luetge when the season began, but he’s quickly forced the team to have some. In 13 appearances, Luetge has pitched phenomenally, going 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA. With his exit velocity and hard-hit rate each in the 90th percentile, Luetge has an xERA of 2.66 with an XBA of .222.
What makes Luetge unique from most other Yankee relievers is that he doesn’t rely on his velocity to get outs. His fastball tops off at around 90 mph, so he relies on his stuff to retire batters. Luetge is in the 94th percentile of chase rate, the 97th percentile of fastball spin, and the 80th percentile of curveball spin.
After giving up runs in his first five appearances, Luetge has now gone eight straight appearances without surrendering a run. He’s given up just four hits since April 20 and has struck out seven in that span. Luetge has elevated into a high-leverage role with both Darren O’Day and Zack Britton on the IL, and so far, he’s thrived in it. Ever since he got out some of his MLB return jitters, Luetge has been one of the most effective relievers in Major League Baseball.
Although it’s a small sample size, Lucas Luetge is showing that he may be Brian Cashman’s next “diamond in the rough”. He’s performed well in pinstripes thus far, and the Yankees will continue to turn to him as the heart of the season approaches.