Yankees Chad Green: Should he be a starter or reliever?

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Chad Green
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Chad Green /

Yankees GM Brian Cashman informed Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that Chad Green would enter Spring Training as a starting pitcher. Is this the right move considering Green was a dominant reliever last year?

Four of the five starting pitcher rotation spots are filled for the Yankees as they enter Spring Training. Now the competition between Jordan Montgomery, Chad Green and others for the No. 5 spot officially begins.

Some fans believe the competition should be settled already. The combination of Green in the bullpen and Montgomery as a starter seemed to work well last year. Montgomery was arguably the most successful rookie starting pitcher, and Green was a shutdown flamethrower.

Proponents of Green as a starter could argue that he deserves a crack at the rotation after his stellar 2017 campaign. While Montgomery had a decent rookie year, that was similar to Clayton Kershaw’s rookie season mind you; Green was used in the playoffs while Montgomery watched.

Green had a ridiculous strikeout to walk ratio of 103:17 in 69 innings of work. The 26-year-old strikeout artist also posted a low ERA of 1.83, WHIP of 0.739 and an undefeated record of 5-0.

It would be naive of anyone to expect Green to produce these numbers again in 2018 as a reliever or starter. But we can expect him to still be very productive in whichever role he plays. In only his second year in the league, Green made professional hitters look foolish; that’s valuable.

Chad Green Is A Great Reliever, But The Yankees Bullpen Is Still Great Without Him

Bringing Green in to alleviate high-pressure situations during the middle innings may seem foolish to give up. But the Yankees have a deep, All-Star staff in the ‘pen. Fangraphs even thinks the bullpen could be legendary this season.

Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances are two of the premier strikeout specialists in the game.  Tommy Kahnle became a playoff hero last year, and David Robertson brings the relief when the Yankees need it most. Green practically makes an already strong bullpen impenetrable on paper.

More from Yanks Go Yard

However, in the event of an injury to one of the star relievers, Green is a luxury to have. If Green wins the No. 5 starting job, new Yankees manager Aaron Boone can confidently move Green to the ‘pen while the Yankees use Montgomery as the fill-in starter.

What is perhaps most valuable about Green in the bullpen, is his ability to dominate multiple innings.  He’s a lights-out middle reliever that could eat up more innings than any of the other star relievers the Yanks have.

Also, having Green come out of the ‘pen for two innings to help the aging C.C. Sabathia during his starts sounds like a good idea. It worked last year.  Why fix something that isn’t broken?

Green’s Pitching Repertoire Is Not Diverse

One of the reasons for Green’s success as a reliever may be because he focused on fewer pitches.  According to Brooks Baseball, in 2017, Green rarely threw his sinker and splitter but relied heavily on his fastball, slider and cutter.

Relievers do not need to master many pitches because they don’t face the same hitter more than once a game. Starting pitchers, on the other hand, have to confuse hitters multiple times a game.

Luke Hochevar explained this reasoning to Lee Judge of the Kansas City Star back in 2014.

"Relievers also throw fewer types of pitches; they don’t have time to develop the feel on four or five different pitches. I asked Wade Davis what pitch he’d eliminate now that he’s back in the pen and he said he’d drop the changeup. But if he got in a long at-bat with someone and needed to show something different, Wade might break it out again.Danny Duffy is going to drop his curve—for the most part. He’ll keep the fastball, slider and change. When I asked Danny about the curve he said he’d “keep it in his back pocket” and use it the same way Davis plans on using his changeup; Danny might use it if he finds himself in a long at-bat and needs something else to show a hitter."

In 2016, Green was more of a spot starter. As a reliever, Green was possibly able to dominate hitters because he was using his best pitches.

Mariano Rivera, for example, was able to dominate the game as a closer primarily using his lethal cutter. If Mo was a starter, he might not have been as dominant.

Montgomery’s Pitching Repertoire Is Diverse

Montgomery does not have an electric 96 mph fastball like Green does, so he needs a more diversified repertoire. According to Brooks Baseball, the crafty young lefty relied on his curveball and sinker. But he also mixed in a changeup, 92 mph fastball and a slider.

So where is the love for Jordan Montgomery? He was a very consistent starter last year as a rookie and deserves the No. 5 spot arguably more than Green. Some fans want to know why is Cashman a supporter of potentially shaking things up?

Maybe because competition is good for business, and it fuels athletes? Perhaps the race will bring out the best in both of these critical young pitchers for the franchise.

But Green Could Be The Next Luis Severino With A Few More Adjustments

Some analysts thought Luis Severino was destined for the bullpen because of his great fastball, but lack of developed secondary pitches. Well, Severino is younger than Green and has been working with Pedro Martinez during the past two offseasons.

When Severino made it to the majors, he showed signs of early potential. One gripe scouts had with Sevy though, was his lack of pitching depth. He only had a good fastball and slider. Now, according to Brooks Baseball, he also throws a complimentary changeup that baffles hitters.

I would love Green to develop into a dominating frontline starting pitcher like Severino, so I’m okay with giving him another crack at the rotation. He will have to establish a reliable offspeed pitch to avoid being too predictable.

Next: Yankees acquire Russell Wilson

Whether Green is in the bullpen or the rotation, Yankees’ fans should have confidence in him.  Cashman struck gold when he acquired Green from the Detroit Tigers in 2015. He will be a vital member of the organization’s pitching staff, hopefully for years to come.