Yankees bullpen arm stepping up big with injuries plaguing team

Alexander Wilson
Jonathan Loaisiga, yankees
Aug 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga (43) and New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino (39) celebrate after defeating the New York Mets 4-2 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees may be struggling as a team, but several individual players have stood out over the past few weeks.

To start the season, bullpen arm Jonathan Loáisiga struggled considerably. He posted a 6.00 ERA in April, 8.22 ERA in May, and 6.00 ERA in July, but has bounced back in a big way over the past month and to start September.

Loáisiga was placed on the injured list earlier this season due to shoulder inflammation, currently hosting a 5.03 ERA, 3.86 xFIP, and just 7.68 strikeouts per 9 over 34 innings of action this year.

However, he’s stepped up big over the past month to help the Yankees’ bullpen, which has dealt with significant injuries over the past few weeks.

The Yankees are seeing the best of Jonathan Loáisiga:

In the month of August, Loáisiga featured a 1.86 ERA, giving up two earned runs and six hits over 9.2 innings. However, he hasn’t allowed a run in his last five outings, giving up just one hit in that sample size. He’s generated six ground balls, three of them coming against the Rays on Saturday. He was just as impressive on Sunday when the Yankees needed him in a big moment after Ron Marinaccio allowed two men on base. He pitched 1.2 innings, striking out two batters over 26 pitches, lowering his ERA to 4.79.

This season, Loáisiga has relied on a sinker, curveball, change-up, and slider combination. Looking at his pitch repertoire and usage over the past few months, he’s used his sinker far more recently.

In August, he saw a 6% increase in sinker usage to 72%, generating a .238 batting average against with a 21.2% whiff rate (season-best numbers). He uses change-up and curveball primarily as strikeout pitches.

If the Yankees can somehow turn their offense around and begin to hit once again, having Loáisiga in form for the playoffs will be a significant positive. He’s had to ramp up after dealing with shoulder inflammation, but it seems as if he’s turned a corner late in the season, perfect timing for the Yankees to rely on him in high-leverage situations.