The New York Yankees turned a 6-0 game into yet another two-run victory on Thursday night, edging past the Minnesota Twins despite getting an extra insurance run from Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the eighth.
Alas, Chad Green took to the mound in the ninth and assured us things wouldn’t come easy by once again working on his beloved curveball.
Green seems to be stuck in stasis right now, too timid to finish games with his signature fastball while the extra burden of ~closing~ is on his shoulders, but wise enough to know that someday, he’ll need to perfect an additional pitch to stay relevant.
That time is not now, though, as big-league hitters continue to inform Green his curve isn’t ready or polished enough by taking it deep out of various ballparks.
Green finished off Thursday’s ninth inning with a perfectly-located belt high fastball and a nasty bit of cheddar at the numbers to strike out the Twins’ sixth and seventh hitters.
Prior to the final strike, though, he hung another curve to the dangerous Miguel Sano (who homers against the Yankees more often than anyone) and danced around the zone with some hittable two-strike curves to the game’s final batter, as Future Pitching Coach David Cone practically begged him to put all his oomph behind No. 1.
Yankees: What happened to Chad Green’s confidence?
Green’s 10 home runs allowed has now matched his highest total as a Yankee since moving to the bullpen full time. The last time we saw that number was 2019, when things got so bad that the Yankees utilized Green’s minor-league option after a meltdown in Anaheim.
Things haven’t reached that level yet for Green, despite what some fans have likely screamed during a particularly heartless moment. However, there’s still a significant level of concern around the righty, who seems to be going down without his best more often than not.
He’s allowed three homers in eight innings in the month of August, with the curve standing out as the culprit on Thursday and Saturday in Chicago, when Jose Abreu, late on the fastball, was allowed to readjust thanks to Green’s breaker.
The curve, of course, wasn’t even a part of Green’s arsenal before 2020, when he abandoned his slider and began to throw it 24.9% of the time. This year? 36%, and it’s appeared in more crucial moments lately. The issue, though, is that Green’s fastball has been slightly less effective than usual (50.6 hard-hit percentage this season, up from 46.2 on his four-seamer at his peak in 2018). Therefore, he’s trying an incomplete curve instead of reinvesting in his trademark heater, leading to what certainly appears to be excess cuteness.
Certainly, the righty is gassed. Like Jonathan Loaisiga before him, the Yankees’ uncanny ability to play close games has somewhat done Green in this season.
However, the Yanks just continue to play games that look exactly like this, no matter how large a lead they leap out to. At this point, they can’t afford a third back-end bullpen member who must be coddled and reshaped after Zack Britton asked out of closing opportunities and Aroldis Chapman returned unceremoniously on Wednesday night.
Green has to be Green for the next month, and that involves trusting his heater. Maybe he needs an earpiece to Cone in the broadcast booth.