New York Yankees activate Luis Cessa ahead of Wednesday’s doubleheader

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa

The New York Yankees are losing one of their top relievers in recent times, as right-hander Tommy Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. He will be sidelined until at least late 2021, and chances are that we won’t see him until early 2022. It is truly a bummer, since the man of the wicked changeup had won the hearts of Yankee fans around the country with his performances.

But at the same time, the New York Yankees are also gaining another arm to help them navigate through this weird, shortened season. Luis Cessa, who hadn’t pitched this year after a positive COVID-19 test a few weeks ago, is now ready to go and was activated from the injured list on Wednesday.

The Yankees’ underrated relief arm

The Yankees bullpen corps can surely use an arm like Cessa. While he is not in the same level as Kahnle, he showed last season that he can be very successful if he prioritizes the use of his slider over his other offerings. That strategy paid off as he had his best season in 2019, with a 4.11 ERA in 81.0 frames.

It is unclear in which role Cessa will rejoin the Yankees. Over the years, he has been a spot starter, a long man, a traditional, one-inning reliever, and has even been part of the “Scranton Shuttle.”

Chances are that Cessa will operate as a long reliever in case he is needed, which will actually free up Chad Green to function as the game flow dictates. The Mexican hurler was at his best last season while working multiple innings per game (he completed his 81.0 innings in 43 games.)

Cessa will be available for the Yankees today, as they face a tough doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. The team has the best record in the major leagues and despite losing one of its top relievers will try to keep it that way. Cessa can certainly help.

New York Yankees: Luis Cessa is impressed with Clint Frazier, saying he looks “stronger” and “ready”

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Clint Frazier, despite being demoted to the New York Yankees‘ alternate training site a few days ago, has handled the decision with aplomb and maturity. According to his own teammates, he has been working diligently to return to the active roster when his moment comes, and he has looked very good at the plate.

As Randy Miller of NJ.com writes, Frazier has even impressed Yankees coaches with his attitude during spring training and summer camp.

Fellow New York Yankees’ rehabber Luis Cessa said that nothing has changed on that front. Frazier remains focused and looks ready to contrinbute consistently at the major league level.

Frazier started off the year with the Yankees, but he was demoted when the team found itself in need of fresh arms to the pitching staff.

The Yankees reliever faced Frazier and said he deserves a shot

Cessa faced Frazier in three recent outings at the Yankees’ alternate training site and was impressed with what he saw.

“He looks good,” Cessa said of the talented Frazier, who has had quite a few controversies in his Yankees’ tenure since coming in the Andrew Miller trade. “He looks stronger. He looks ready.”

The red-headed outfielder has 16 homers and 56 RBI in 393 career at-bats. While he has struggled defensively, he has loads of promise with the stick. He just needs playing time.

In the Yankees’ big league team, Frazier is blocked by at least five players: Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner, plus reserves Mike Tauchman and Miguel Andujar. But he showed during the exhibition games (both in the spring and in the summer) that he is ready to be challenged consistently at the majors, having hit .321 with two homers, four RBI, eight walks and a .459 on-base percentage during 14 games.

“Everybody is waiting for the opportunity to come back and I think Clint looks good,” Cessa said.

New York Yankees: Luis Cessa is close to game-ready and could return this week

The New York Yankees suffered a recent loss to their bullpen corps: Tommy Kahnle, one of the best and most reliable relievers on the team, will be sidelined for a long time following an elbow injury. That’s unfortunate, no doubt about it, but if there is a team in the major leagues that can absorb the blow of a reliever getting hurt, that team is the Yankees.

Lately, right-hander reliever Nick Nelson stole the show. In addition, the Yankees are getting good news on the injured Luis Cessa. The versatile Mexican is very close to being game-ready after missing the first week and a half of the season with a positive COVID-19 test.

According to Meredith Marakovits, Cessa is still at the New York Yankees’ alternative site in Scranton.  He threw a 40 pitch simulated game two days ago, and could be available to help the Bombers as soon as tomorrow.

Cessa is waiting to hear from the Yankees

Marakovits explained that Cessa told her he’s just “waiting to hear word from Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman.” She reports that he sounded unsure when he might rejoin the team, but it should be fairly soon.

While the Yankees will surely miss Kahnle for whatever long he’s absent, they can cope with the weapons they have at their disposal, but in the active roster and in the alternate training site. In addition, closer Aroldis Chapman is about to return to action, which will likely result in Zack Britton returning to his old setup role.

As far as Cessa concerns, he will try to replicate last season’s success upon his return. He wasn’t the most consistent of relievers, but he pitched 81.0 solid innings of a 4.11 ERA (4.87 FIP) with 8.33 K/9.

The key for Cessa was increasing the usage of his effective slider, to the point in which he throws it more often than the fastball. The Yankees liked the results, and the pattern will surely continue going forward.

New York Yankees place DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa on the 10-day injured list with COVID-19

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees have two known major league players who tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-handed reliever Luis Cessa were both placed on the 10-day injured list by the Bombers on Wednesday.

LeMahieu, who led the New York Yankees in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 5.4 fWAR (Fangraphs’ version) is said to have no symptoms of the disease. It is not clear, as of now, when he will be allowed to return to the active team and join the team summer camp.

The 31-year old star slashed .327/.375/.518 last season with a .375 wOBA and 136 wRC+. He hit a career-high 26 home runs in his finest offensive season yet. LeMahieu is in the last year of the two-year, $24 million pact he signed before the 2019 season.

The Yankees’ Cessa also on the shelf

The Yankees also placed hurler Luis Cessa on the 10-day injured list. The reliever was also recently diagnosed with coronavirus and had some mild symptoms for a few days, but he said on Tuesday that he is already recovered from the disease.

Like it is happening with LeMahieu, it is unclear when the 28-year old righty will be allowed to report to training camp.

Cessa pitched 81.0 innings in 2019, with a 4.11 ERA and a 4.87 FIP. He had a bit of a home run issue, conceding 1.56 long balls per each nine innings, but was a valuable reliever in a variety of roles for Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

The Yankees need both men to succeed in the 2020 shortened season, especially LeMahieu, because the dropoff in expected performance between LeMahieu and his potential replacements is considerable.

The 2020 season, for the New York Yankees, will start on July 23 against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital, so both men still have a handful of days to show they left the virus behind and return to the club.

BREAKING: Two Yankees test positive for coronavirus

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Following team workouts on Saturday, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced that two players on the team are positive for coronavirus. Those two players are DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa.

LeMahieu is reportedly asymptomatic, while Cessa has mild symptoms. The players gave Boone permission to announce the positive tests. Both players tested positive before returning to New York and are isolating at home.

These are the first two players known to test positive for coronavirus on the Yankees. Just 31 players across the league tested positive during preliminary testing.

Besides those two, not all players have reported to camp yet. That’s because some players are still waiting to receive a negative test to clear them to the facility. That includes guys like Gary Sanchez and Aroldis Chapman.

The announcement of LeMahieu and Cessa testing positive for coronavirus comes on the same afternoon that Masahiro Tanaka was rushed to the hospital after an injury in a simulated game. He was hit on a come-backer off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Tanaka is expected to be released on Saturday night as his CT scans came back clean.

Hopefully, these issues will be it for the Yankees in 2020. They’ve gone through an awful string of injuries and bad luck over the past few years, including earlier this year. The baseball gods have been against them, so it would be great if the team could make it through a season without many issues.

But, on the other hand, it’s not unexpected that players are testing positive for coronavirus. That’s just going to happen this year, and players know that. Hopefully, players will see what happened to LeMahieu and Cessa and use that as a warning that anyone can get it and that they need to be careful.

 

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Luis Cessa, the Yankees go to middle reliever

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa

The New York Yankees Luis Cessa is a seldom talked about Yankee pitcher, but his relief is indispensable when the starting pitcher fails to perform.  Luis Cessa was born Luis Enrique Cessa and was born on April 25, 1992, in Cordoba, Veracruz, Mexico. He is an American citizen and speaks English as his second language.

Cessa, in his native Cordoba, played baseball as a boy in the sandlots around his neighborhood.  He continued to play ball for his high school team. He played at shortstop but transitioned to pitching in his high school years, where he was often the best pitcher on the team. Cessa was scouted and agreed on a contract with the New York Mets as an international free agent in July 2008. In 2009, He made his professional debut with the Dominican Summer League Mets, where he again played as a shortstop for the first two seasons, transitioning into a pitcher again in 2011.

In the summer of 2015, Cessa was traded to the Detroit Tigers.  He was added to the Tigers 40 man roster after the 2015 season.  But in the offseason, he was traded to the New York Yankees along with pitcher Chad Green. In 2016, Cessa was named to the Yankees’ Opening Day roster in 2016. On April 8, 2016, he made his debut for Yankees on the major league against his former Detroit Tigers.

Cessa spent the majority of 2016 at the minor league affiliate Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Raiders.  But on June 26, the Yankees called Cessa up from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and on June 29, He had his first major league win, pitching three innings of 1-run relief.

In 2017 while bouncing back and forth from the Rail Riders to the Yankees, he played in 10 games in middle relief.  In 2018 that increased to 18 games.  Although not the best pitcher, Cessa was making a name for himself as a New York Yankee middle reliever.  2019 was spent at the Stadium.  He was mostly used as a middle reliever in 43 games, although he did save one game.  In one of his wins last year, he struck out seven in three and two-thirds innings.

During the 2019 ALDS against the Minnesota Twins and in the ALCS against the Houston Astros the 28-year-old Cessa pitched four scoreless innings in relief. This year if there is a season, he will be an impactful pitcher with Happ, Montgomery and Loaisiga anchoring the Yankee pitching rotation.  With Luis Severino out for the year recovering from Tommy John surgery and Domingo German likely not to play at all due to suspension, middle relief will be an integral part of the Yankee plan.

Cessa is not only a reliable pitcher to eat up innings when the starter fails to perform, but has regularly been used when there is an opener instead of a starter.  The combination of Chad Green and Cessa has been beneficial to the New York Yankees in those games.  In 2020 he will earn $895k and will become a free agent in 2024.

Luis Cessa has a warm personality that has caused him to be well accepted by all the Yankee players and is considered to be a valuable teammate in the bullpen. The affable Cessa has a main squeeze in Nancy Arreola, who is a media personality for TV Azteca in Mexico.  They have been going together for several years, and their bond is strong.  She even has a photo of them together as the header on her Twitter page.

 

New York Yankees: Cessa wants to slide his way into a great 2020

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa

New York Yankees‘ fans have had a love-hate relationship with Luis Cessa. Let’s be sincere: it has mostly been hate. But they should realize that this is a pitcher with weapons to succeed, and one that improved as 2019 went on.

With 4.11, Cessa had the best ERA of his career last season, and while the FIP didn’t quite reflect a dominant hurler (4.87,) he also had improvements in his strikeout rate.

In 2019, Cessa struck out 8.33 batters per each nine innings, an improvement over his previous career high of 7.86. He had a healthy 12.7 swinging-strike percentage, also a career-best.

Overall, the Yankees’ reliever lowered his fastball usage from 41.6 percent in 2018 to 34.1 percent in 2019, and increased his slider usage from 41.2 to 49.9 percent. The reason behind this is that his fastball isn’t anything special (-4.8 in Fangraphs’ pitch value) and the slider is, actually, very good (+5.1.)

The Yankees want him to use his slider more

The shift in pitch usage began well into last season, and it shows in his half splits. Prior to the All-Star break, Cessa had a 4.54 ERA. After that date, he put a 3.66 ERA. His wOBA went down from .335 to .295.

Cessa had a very good showing in the postseason and is, actually, a dark horse candidate to have a much-improved 2020 season, if there is one. He seems like he has come a long way from his early-career days, and was having a terrific spring training before play was halted.

The great thing about the New York Yankees’ righty is that he can fill a variety of roles. He could be stretched out to start if needed, he can be a very valuable two or three-inning reliever, and he can also be a regular, more traditional bullpen piece.

In the abbreviated spring training, the reliever had a 2.89 ERA, with 13 strikeous and only one walk in 9.1 innings. He could be in for a very good year. Yankees’ fans, give him a break.

New York Yankees: Luis Cessa 2020 Preview

Okay, I know I can’t be the only person who would always roll my eyes when I heard New York Yankees announcers say, “Luis Cessa is warming up”. Cessa has just been one of those guys who has stuck around and nobody really knew why. Occasionally he would be solid when he pitched, but other times he looked like a guy who was way out of his element. However, maybe the Yankees have learned a valuable lesson when it comes to Luis Cessa. For the last few years, Cessa has bounced between being a long-reliever and a spot starter for the Yankees. Doing neither with a high level of success. Again, he would show flashes, but most of the time the results were not ideal. Last year, there was a moment where I think I saw the real potential of Luis Cessa. The two games he pitched in relief against the Astros in the ALCS really showed me a lot. Cessa was able to pitch four shutout innings against one of the best lineups in baseball and he did it on the biggest stage. Cessa looked very comfortable, and pitching in a two-inning outing seemed perfect for Cessa. Do you notice how Cessa’s name hasn’t really been mentioned when it comes to the fifth spot in the Yankees injury-plagued rotation? I think the Yankees know where Luis Cessa’s best spot is for the 2020 season.

2020 Preview

In 2020, the ability to get guys out on both sides of the plate will be extremely important especially with this new three batter rule for relievers. Cessa mainly throws three pitches that can get guys out on both sides of the plate. When on, he shows a plus slider along with a very good changeup. Cessa has also shown good command with his fastball. This three-pitch mix will help Cessa be a weapon for the Yankees out of the bullpen this year. Cessa will be a guy that can stretch it out if needed for the Yankees as well. If they need a guy to come in during the fourth inning to keep the game close, Cessa can be that guy. A good thing for Cessa is he will not have as much pressure on him as the other guys in the pen. Nobody is expecting Luis Cessa to be the best bullpen arm the New York Yankees have. That’s an advantage for Cessa. The Yankees can throw him in early in a game or he can come in late when one of the top tier guys needs the night off. If the latter scenario occurs, Cessa has the stuff to be successful in a late-inning role. 2020 is the year for Luis Cessa. He no longer has any minor league options so he’s either going to be a key piece for the Yankees for the 2020 campaign, or he’s going to find his way out the door. I tend to think we are going to see some good things from Mr. Cessa in 2020.

It’s February 25th, And The New York Yankees Already Have Problems

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees announced on Tuesday that Luis Severino would be out for the rest of the season as he will be undergoing Tommy John surgery.

As soon as I heard about his arm issues last week, I instantly had a bad feeling. With everything he went through last year, it seemed that this was all connected.

But unfortunately, we’re two weeks into spring training and already down our number two pitcher. Our number four pitcher James Paxton is making good injury progress and should be throwing again within a week.

Right now, the rotation looks like this: Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, Jordan Montgomery, and an unknown player. Paxton won’t be ready for opening day, and with Domingo German suspended until June, someone will need to make a few starts.

The Yankees could either sign a veteran pitcher for cheap or use in-house guys. The in-house guys that come to mind are Jonathan Loaisiga or Luis Cessa. Both guys are already on the 40-man roster and have started before.

Deivi Garcia could be another option and is also on the 40-man roster. The only problem is, he hasn’t pitched a major league game. He’s very inexperienced and needs more time in AAA.

So, the Yankees have a problem to sort out already. It’s just February, but it still feels like 2019 with all the injury news. Luckily, we’re still a month from opening day, and the Yankees have plenty of time for trial and error to figure out who the temporary fifth starter will be.

 

Luis Cessa, The New York Yankees Wild Card Reliever

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa

The New York Yankees have been known for their elite bullpen for a while. They have superstar closer Aroldis Chapman, flamethrowers Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, the filthy Adam Ottavino, and the sinker specialist Zack Britton. In the mix are young arms Jonathon Loasiga who throws heat and the crafty swingman Jordan Montgomery. It’s safe to say that the Yankees bullpen is loaded and that they are ready to be lights out next year. The interesting thing is that Yankees RHP Luis Cessa often finds himself left out, however, he’s more than just an expendable arm.

Overshadowed

When the Yankees acquired Luis Cessa back in 2015, it was alongside another RHP, Chad Green. In 2016 they both came up for the Yankees later in the season as both starters and relievers. At first, it seemed that Cessa would be the more promising pitcher, he had pitched more innings and to the tune of a lower ERA and WHIP in 2016. This all changed come 2017, as Chad Green broke out and Cessa hadn’t done much at all. Since 2017 it’s been clear who was the better arm:

Chad Green (2017-2019):
2.82 ERA
1.006 WHIP
12.4 K/9
156 ERA+

Luis Cessa (2017-2019)
4.56 ERA
1.379 WHIP
8.0 K/9
97 ERA+

Cessa’s been overshadowed by Chad Green ever since he got to New York, but it shouldn’t take away from his potential.

A Premier Slider

Luis Cessa has one of the most underrated sliders in baseball, a pitch that he needs to utilize as much as he can. His slider is the key to his success, as in 2019, his slider had hitters only hitting .204 against it with a .402 SLG against. His expected stats were even better, with a .189 xBA and .308 xSLG. He used his slider 49.9% of the time in 2019, the most he’s ever used his slider in a season. The result? A 4.11 ERA, the lowest of his career and a career-high 8.3 K/9 in 2019. His slider is a fantastic pitch, however, the issue is that he doesn’t have much other than that.

Crushing His Fastball

While he does throw a 94.6 MPH fastball on average, opponents crush it. In 2019 opponents hit .318 with a .506 SLG against, which isn’t at all good. The issue seems to be that he’s always relied on pitching to contact, and that means his fastball is being thrown with the goal of making contact. Cessa’s fastball may seem hopeless, however, it has an above-average spin rate that put him at the 58th percentile in 2019. It also breaks pretty well, with a 0.2-inch vertical movement above average and 1.3-inch horizontal movement above average. With new hire Matt Blake as the pitching coach, we could see Cessa’s fastball be used as a strikeout pitch. Creating a more modern approach to the game, we could see Matt Blake turn a fastball that was unusable into a reliable pitch to complement a devastating slider.

Projections For 2020

I believe Luis Cessa will have a career season in 2020, and while he may not be a superstar reliever, he’ll be a reliable arm the Yankees would love to have. If he has a career year in 2020, his stats could look like this:

3.50 ERA
1.234 WHIP
65 IP
70 SO
1.3 fWAR

Do you disagree with these predictions? How will Cessa’s 2020 go? Spring Training is coming ever closer, and we’ll be able to see how Cessa will perform in 2020.