They didnâ€™t say it out loud, but everybody knew that, coming into the season, the New York Yankees had a select group of highly dependable relievers, formed by Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Justin Wilson, Chad Green, and Darren Oâ€™Day. Peripheral pitchers such as Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, Lucas Luetge, and Nick Nelson, among others, were expected to contribute but in lower leverage roles.
As April winds down, the Yankees can say with confidence that Loaisiga has done everything in his power to enter that privileged group. The young fireballer has been a pleasant surprise so far.
â€œIt was something that a lot of us mostly had hoped for but also foreseen,â€ Yankeesâ€™ bullpen coach Mike Harkey told MLB.comâ€™s Betelhem Ashame on Wednesday, â€œhim developing into something that was going to be very, very positive for us. Heâ€™s grown up before our eyes.â€
Loaisiga has a sparkling 1.23 ERA in 14.2 innings with the Yankees so far. Other run-prevention metrics such as xERA (1.59) FIP (2.61) and xFIP (3.03) are also on his side, so his performance so far has been no fluke.
The Yankeesâ€™ multi-inning weapon
Loaisiga looks poised and confident on the mound, unlike in previous seasons. He trusts the quality of his stuff, which is quite effective. And he is missing more bats than ever before: his 25.0% K-BB% is, by far, the best mark of his career.
Entering the season with a clear role with the Yankees also helped a lot. He is a multi-inning reliever, and a very good one at that: he is out there blowing 98 mph sinkers past people, coupling it with 90 mph changeups and high-80s curveballs.
â€œLo is nasty,â€ said Gio Urshela. â€œFrom third base, I see his pitches — theyâ€™re really moving. Sinker, changeup, slider. That was impressive.â€
â€œI just think he’s starting to figure out his strengths,â€ Harkey said. â€œThatâ€™s usually a young pitcherâ€™s hardest thing, to figure out where his stuff fits and where it fits as far as order of importance.â€