2. Jonathan Loaisiga
The Yankees’ super-strong, five-headed bullpen entering the season has turned largely to mush. Ain’t it fun?
Zack Britton’s been injured nearly the entire season with an elbow issue and hamstring problem. Aroldis Chapman has gone from the best closer in baseball to completely unpitchable. Darren O’Day has a hamstring issue so bad it might force him from the game. Justin Wilson has been as bad as it gets, with more five-run implosions to his name than successful 1-2-3s. Chad Green’s been largely great, except for in the fatigued narrative-swinging loss he just participated in before the break.
Beyond those five, though, the Yanks actually have two names who’ve outshone their projections. Lucas Luetge, who no one had heard of entering 2021, has been a key cog since Day 1.
Oh, and Jonathan Loaisiga, who wasn’t firmly in the team’s plans because he refused to grab the reins in 2018, 2019 and 2020, looks like the closer of the future. He spews 98-100 and runs the ball in on batters’ hands, fading changeups away from the heart of the dish as a change-of-pace. He’s got the same, tight slider as always, but now his other offerings accentuate it perfectly. No more messing around: he is an elite closer type, and he should’ve been an All-Star.
Loaisiga’s clearly the type of dirt-cheap bullpen ace a smart team holds onto — especially a team like the Yankees, who can’t be that far away from contention. He’s got the stuff and personality to match (his humbleness has evoked the great Mariano Rivera at times), and his contract is an incentive to build around.
Green? If you find the right buyer, sure. It has to be considered. He’s a two-ish-pitch pitcher who’s passing 30. Britton and Chapman? Send them out the door as soon as you find someone who wants to absorb the check.
Johnny Lo? He’s the next generation. He’s the one you keep.