According to Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake, entering spring training, the team is exploring the viability of a sick joke. At this juncture, they're examining different ways to maximize the joke's sickness. How sick can it get? How do we push the limits of sickness beyond the boundaries of a typical goof?
In an effort to determine whether this snippet of information is real or whether it's visible only to me, eg., a spooky mirage, we've decided to cover it and hope that you, too, can view it.
Blake, per Gary Phillips of the Daily News, has considered stretching out Jonathan Loaisiga's relief role this season to cover multi-inning duty, effectively replacing Michael King.
Yes, the very same Loaisiga who came under fire at the end of last season for his durability and seemed to be headed to the edges of non-tender limbo. Remember? It was Aaron Boone who said:
"Every season has been interrupted. When he’s going well, it’s as good as there is because he’s efficient, he’s got great stuff, he can get both handed out, he can go one-plus [innings] for you, he can fill any role, whether it’s closing out a game or in the biggest spots. When he’s going good, I don’t know if there’s much better in the league, frankly. But his seasons have been interrupted pretty much every year."- Aaron Boone
And now ... this. The only question remaining is whether this is purposeful misuse of Loaisiga, or whether it's somehow accidental.
Also ... is the team referring to two-inning stints, which Loaisiga completed nine times in his healthy "heyday" of 2021 (two earned runs allowed in 18.1 innings, not too shabby)? Or do they want him to follow King's footsteps and try three-inning stretches? Both seem less than feasible in the righty's current state.
Yankees want oft-injured Jonathan Loaisiga to cover multiple innings? Like, all the time?
You can see it too, right? We're not crazy?
Loaisiga appeared to finally realize his Yankees potential in 2021, when the rest of the roster melted down around him as he posted 70.2 near-flawless innings with a 2.17 ERA. Armed with a devastating cutter, he genuinely looked like the Mariano Rivera heir who'd been foretold. Then, the breakdown took hold once more; he walked 19 men in 48 innings in 2022, one year after walking a pristine 16 in those 70+ frames. He battled shoulder trauma that summer, then managed only 17.2 innings in 2023, sandwiched in between elbow-related absences (bone spur surgery, season-ending inflammation that promoted Boone's comments).
And, to add insult to (sigh) injury, his worst outing of 2021, and the one pockmark on his season, came after an All-Star break spent resting and recuperating from COVID. He tossed an inning at Fenway Park on July 24, allowing two hits and no runs in a one-run win. The next day, when the Yankees went back to the well, he failed to retire a batter, allowing four hits and four earned runs while tossing Domingo Germán's perfect game bid in the eighth inning.
Obviously, extenuating circumstances abounded there, but that game serves as yet another cautionary tale in a whole book of them about what happens when Loaisiga is pushed. Not looking forward to Boone's Somber Quote 2.0 when this experiment has to be recalled.