When the New York Yankees originally acquired Jonathan Loáisiga from the San Francisco Giants back in 2016, they hoped he would blossom into a serviceable starting pitcher.
So far, Loáisiga has taken steps in the right direction to become a focal point in the bullpen during the 2022 season and beyond. In 2021, the 27-year-old recorded a 2.17 ERA over 70.2 innings pitched. He logged 8.79 strikeouts per nine, 60.9% ground ball percentage, the highest of his career, and a 3.01 SIERA.
With injuries to players like Zack Britton, the Yankees have had to put more responsibility on the shoulders of Loáisiga, who battled his own injuries during the 2021 season but ended up being arguably their best arm on the back end.
When looking at Jonathan as a pure pitcher, he predominantly utilizes a fastball, curveball, and changeup. This past year, he recorded a career-high 98.4 MPH fastball on average, using it 58.8% of the time. His curveball saw a 3 MPH increase to 87.1, and changeup hit 90 mph. When you have a pitcher throwing a 90 MPH changeup, you know you have something special that is worth investing in.
General manager Brian Cashman only has so much money to invest in talent this off-season, and with reports they could pursue Freddie Freeman in free agency, adding to the bullpen seems like a secondary priority. Currently, the Bombers have Britton, Chapman, Nestor Cortes, Luis Gil, Chad Green, Clay Holmes, Lucas Luetge, Luis Medina, Wandy Peralta, Joely Rodriguez, and Loáisiga as options out of the bullpen.
With the Yankees’ bullpen filling in admirably for the starters, who sustained serious injuries, Johnathan stood out as a dependable option with electrifying velocity on his pitches. Interestingly, the Yankees once viewed Loáisiga as a potential starter, but settling into a relief role has given him the chance to maintain his speed and efficiency over a smaller sample size.
In fact, Loáisiga became one of the best relief pitchers in baseball this past year, earning a 2.4 fWAR ranking only behind Liam Hendriks and Josh Hader. His 2.18 xERA was second behind Hendriks, showcasing his astronomical development.
The Yankees bullpen projects to be one of the best in 2022, and Loáisiga undoubtedly plays a major factor in their plans.