Entering the 2022 season, the New York Yankees possessed one of the game’s deepest bullpens, led by generational closer Aroldis Chapman, breakout 2021 ace Jonathan Loaisiga, and the dependable Chad Green, whose high-leverage issues only stood out because of how often he was trusted in high-leverage situations.
Behind that trio, 2021 gem Clay Holmes and multi-inning weapon Michael King seemed poised to steal larger roles for themselves. In the season’s early weeks, the bullpen dominated, though it followed a different trajectory than most expected.
Holmes and King indeed continued their breakouts, though on the flip side, Chapman spent April desperately crossing his fingers through regressing peripherals, only to watch things crash down in May as he hit the Injured List with Achilles trouble.
Loaisiga, too, brought the same 99 MPH sinkers to the mound in 2022, but had seemingly lost his command and effectiveness, slumping to a 7.02 ERA and 1.56 WHIP through 18 outings. Green, despite pedestrian results, passed him once more on the trust tree — only to be felled by an elbow tear last week.
What was wrong with Loaisiga? Regression to the mean after a spectacular year that left him as the closer’s heir apparent? Or something physical that needed mending? The Yankees’ hopes for 2022 and beyond rested on the answer, though arguably learning the right-hander was being troubled physically was the more appealing quick-fix solution.
Lo and behold, Loaisiga became the third member of the Bombers’ back-end trio to hit the IL in a one-week span, as he was placed on the IL with shoulder discomfort on Wednesday afternoon.
Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga hits IL (shoulder discomfort)
Add Giancarlo Stanton’s floating MRI, DJ LeMahieu’s wrist soreness, and Luis Gil’s season-ending surgery at the minor-league level, and the Yankees’ picture of perfect health been taken off the wall.
Remember when the Yankees needed a reliever at the deadline to prevent burnout? Well, make it three (though Loaisiga’s return will likely be touted as an addition as “valuable as any” by Brian Cashman).
When it rains, it pours for the Yankees, no matter the year. Loaisiga still may have a future as Chapman’s heir apparent, but his 2022 innings have rarely looked anything like the bowling-ball-hurling righty at his peak.
The Bombers will miss Loaisiga while he rehabilitates, but … in essence, they’ve been missing him all year. Wandy Peralta, Clarke Schmidt, and JP Sears will likely have to pick up the slack in the later innings — but, if you’re looking for a silver lining, Loaisiga’s innings can’t get much worse.
Whatever version of Lasagna the Yankees get to embrace this summer should hopefully be healthy and more confident.