Yankees: What in heaven’s name is happening with Chad Green

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Yankees have a reliever who, until recently was considered an “also ran” in the rankings of the bullpen the team has constructed. But lately, he’s been putting up numbers that can only be described as phenomenal. And he’s not on one those streaks pitchers have; this is who he is.

The Yankees have one of the strongest and most dominant bullpens in the major leagues. And it’s gotten to the point where Joe Girardi has needed to manage his relievers by committee, with no one assigned to any particular role, letting the game dictate who comes in when.

And when you have Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees $86 million dollar man, David Robertson, a proven closer, and set-up man wherever he’s been (and that includes the Yankees), and Dellin Betances, who hopefully will finally get his just due from an organization that bilked and humiliated him during the offseason, you have to wonder if there’s room for anyone else.

Well, not so fast. Chad Green has some input on that question. And while it’s only been lately his value to the team has come to the forefront, he’s been doing the same thing he is now all season long.

And I suppose if I’m going to describe someone as “phenomenal,” I’d better put up some numbers to justify the adjective.

You want it; you got it. In 63 innings, Green has struck out 96 batters. My high school math tells me that for every three outs he’s recorded, two have been via the strikeout. And further, my baseball logic tells me if not one can hit the ball against you, you’re not liable to give up many runs (2.00 ERA) and you are a pretty darn good pitcher at this level.

But again, just saying it isn’t good enough. So, let’s try it this way. Green has faced 231 batters this season, and only 32 have managed to get a hit off him this year. Translation: once in every six times a major league hitter strides to the plate does he get a hit off Green.

So, what is it about this guy? Yankees catcher, Austin Romine, doesn’t have the answer, telling the New York Daily News:

"“We’re all looking for an answer,’’ Romine said. “His fastball just kind of jumps at hitters. He just comes at you and lets it eat.”"

To which he later added,

"“It’s got some jump at the end, that’s the best way I can put it,’’ said Romine. “It keeps its velocity and it gets on you real quick. It gets on me sometimes when I’m catching him, so I know it gets on hitters.”"

Reminding of the Yankees immortal, Mariano Rivera, who bewildered batters with just one pitch, his always in the strike zone cutter, Green, according to Girardi is a rarity in baseball today with only two pitches. From the same News story, Girardi explains:

"“His fastball plays up out of the bullpen,” Girardi said. “And similar to Dellin, it has been simplified for him. He doesn’t need to be a three or four-pitch pitcher. He’s a two-pitch guy and it’s been successful.”"

And while Green would fit in as a closer on a host of other teams, his fate with the Yankees rests solely on doing what he did today when he came in relief of Jaime Garcia in the fifth inning, turning in 1.1 innings in a crucial part of the game, earning the win, before turning it over to the “big guys” in the bullpen.

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All of which could leave these other salivating for Green’s services during the off-season.

It’s not often you get a middle reliever as dominant as Green, and as such, he should be a treasured part of the Yankees team.

And the oddities even extend to the question of whether or not Green would have reached this point if not for the injury to Adam Warren, who recently went down with back spasms and is not slated for a return to the team anytime soon.

Chad Green is one of those feel-good stories that come along in baseball only once in a while. He gets a chance, and he makes good on it. In spades. And the Yankees are fortunate to be reaping the rewards.

Next: Clint Frazier: The maturation of a young man

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