The Yankees have renewed faith in Jonathan Loaisiga, and it’s starting to show

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga
Feb 23, 2020; Port Charlotte, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga (43) pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

After throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday’s Grapefruit League action, Jonathan Loaisiga is shaping up as a crucial piece in the New York Yankees’ pitching puzzle. It’s clear that, barring a series of injuries, he won’t make the rotation, but the young righty can be a valuable contributor in a multi-inning relief role.

So far, Loaisiga has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless frames for the Yankees, and his command, which is what has set him back all these years, is starting to improve, despite walking a pair of batters on Tuesday.

“I’ve always been pretty open in telling them that I’m here to pitch and help in any way possible,” Loaisiga said to through an interpreter. “That could be multiple innings, that could be middle relief, it could be starting. To me, it’s just being available and putting myself in a position where I can help, regardless of what that may be.”

The Yankees know that, after Zack Britton’s injury, there is a huge hole in the late innings that someone will need to fill. Manager Aaron Boone has said it will be a team effort, but it’s nice to know that Loaisiga is good enough to be one of the pitchers with that duty.

The Yankees know he can be an important piece

The right-hander wasn’t bad at all in 2020, with a 3.52 ERA in 12 games, but faltered during key moments in the postseason and is looking for another chance.

“He’s been a guy that has had varying degrees of success these last few years, but that we feel really good about,” Boone said. “With the length that he can give you in the pen, that role becomes really important. He’s a dynamic pitcher with great stuff and the ability to fill up the strike zone.”

The Yankees’ skipper encourages Loaisiga to attack the strike zone and stop nibbling around the corners, which often leads to walks. Loaisiga believes his changeup has developed into a reliable third pitch, and continues to tinker with a slider.

“I’ve felt really good in camp,” Loaisiga said. “This year I feel that physically that I’m at 100%. My arm feels really good.”