At a pivotal point in the game on Saturday, the New York Yankees were down 2-1 to the Orioles, Chad Green entered the game and was not able to hold the Orioles scoreless. In one inning of work, he gave up one run on one hit with only two strikeouts. Brock Hammond of pinstripealley.com notes that Green threw just two off-speed pitches among his 18 offerings to Oriole hitters – proof, perhaps, that as good as Green’s fastball can be, hitters know what to expect from him and are getting hits a lot more often than they were back in ’17 when he was absolute lights out for the Yankees.
It is no secret, perhaps, to opposing teams that Green doesn’t rely on his secondary pitches to get hitters out. In 2018, he relied on the fastball more than he had in 2017 with less success. The exit velocity, barrel % and HR/9 rates all went up, according to Hammond, and in the case of HR/9, doubled in ’18.
Chad Green relies on his primary pitch to get batters out:
In 2018, Green used a slider as his go-to secondary pitch which resulted in hitters batting over .400 and slugging .655 off of it. Late last season, he brought back his splitter as a change of pace, Hammond says of the splitter:
“That’s a pretty solid pitch, and it’s no coincidence Green’s numbers improved when he started throwing it more last August. Developing trust and consistency with his secondary offerings is going to be key for him in 2019.”
However, already in his first game of the season, Green enters the game and relies almost exclusively on his fastball against Oriole hitters, and the result is disappointing.
The Yankees have also used Green in an opener role this spring and the result was the same, he allowed a run in one inning, only this time it was in the first inning.
It would appear that Chad Green needs a new approach to improve in 2018 and to succeed in 2019.
Whether his role out of the bullpen is as relief or as an opener, Green appears to be at a crux in his career, where he must adjust to hitters sitting on his fastball. One of two things needs to happen, or maybe both, Green needs to rediscover the above-average spin rate and control that made him practically unhittable in ’17 and develop his secondary pitches, such as the splitter, to become out pitches.
Green is still an elite reliever in this league, but to achieve consistent results with his pitches, he will need to make some changes and soon. The Yankees can ill afford to have Green give up runs, especially, in a game in which they are trailing 2-1.
Look for Green to make some adjustments this season with his pitch selection and for him to increase his use of his off speed pitches to keep hitters honest at the plate.