After throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesdayâ€™s Grapefruit League action, Jonathan Loaisiga is shaping up as a crucial piece in the New York Yankeesâ€™ pitching puzzle. Itâ€™s clear that, barring a series of injuries, he wonâ€™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.
â€œIâ€™ve always been pretty open in telling them that Iâ€™m here to pitch and help in any way possible,â€ Loaisiga said to MLB.com through an interpreter. â€œThat could be multiple innings, that could be middle relief, it could be starting. To me, itâ€™s just being available and putting myself in a position where I can help, regardless of what that may be.â€
The Yankees know that, after Zack Brittonâ€™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 itâ€™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 wasnâ€™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.
â€œHe’s been a guy that has had varying degrees of success these last few years, but that we feel really good about,â€ Boone said. â€œWith the length that he can give you in the pen, that role becomes really important. Heâ€™s a dynamic pitcher with great stuff and the ability to fill up the strike zone.â€
The Yankeesâ€™ 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.
â€œIâ€™ve felt really good in camp,â€ Loaisiga said. â€œThis year I feel that physically that Iâ€™m at 100%. My arm feels really good.â€