Yankees’ Lucas Luetge has become entirely new pitcher with a mustache

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Yankees‘ surprise 2021 breakout reliever Lucas Luetge without a mustache: solid, elite curveball, a potential regression/DFA candidate if things went wrong in Year 2.

Yankees’ surprise 2021 breakout reliever Lucas Luetge with a mustache? Dashing, refined, and the kind of dominant lefty this bullpen can’t live without.

Robbed of its depth after injuries to Jonathan Loaisiga (short-term) and Chad Green (long-term), plus an Aroldis Chapman regression that blew away even the least rosy projections, the Yankees bullpen has relied upon emergent talent (Michael King), prospects (Ron Marinaccio), and a new-look Luetge to remain stabilized through mid-July.

Somehow, the whole thing has kind of … worked, despite an underwhelming recent Chapman return and some high-profile struggles from Miguel Castro. Luetge’s been a major part of the glue holding things together, and it’s all thanks to his strapping new facial hair.

Though Nestor Cortes and Matt Carpenter get all the ‘stache shine, Luetge’s also using his upper lip to great effect these days. In 12.1 innings before growing the mustache, his 5.84 ERA had him firmly on the roster bubble.

Since? Through play on July 10, he’s been one of the bullpen’s cleanest options, even if the area under his nose can’t say the same.

Yankees’ Lucas Luetge is a different pitcher after growing mustache

Don’t blame Thursday’s extra-innings loss on the mustache, though, please. Blame the Ghost Runner and a team-wide malaise. Never blame the ‘stache.

The 35-year-old Luetge was living in DFA limbo before the Yankees saved him prior to the 2021 season, giving him an Opening Day roster spot and his first MLB action since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners.

It was a heartwarming story, but with a few bad bounces, he could’ve easily become last season’s version of Manny Bañuelos. After all, the Yankees do a ton of maneuvering annually, and the last man on the roster has to really perform to stay off the chopping block.

Perform he did, though. Luetge, in outings both short and long, amassed a 2.74 ERA and 78 Ks in 72.1 innings pitched, earning a prime spot in the middle innings for the Bombers.

Though he entered 2022 in rougher shape, his mustache has piloted a complete 180, culminating in his best outing of the season, a 3.1-inning masterpiece of a save against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Luetge is now entrenched in the Yankees’ bullpen in much the same role for the second consecutive year. He’s got the most volatile job in baseball, and he seems likely to maintain the position through the end of the season, even while shuffle after shuffle goes down around him.

That’s what an impressive caterpillar can do for a lefty who loves mustache wax and hates hard contact.