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Is Jonathan Loaisiga ready to be a weapon out of the pen?

The season is winding down and it feels like forever ago since Jonathan Loaisiga pitched for the Yankees. Last time we saw him, he went up against Yusei Kikuchi, who may or may not have doctored a baseball and made himself into an actual major league pitcher. In that game, while Kikuchi was dealing*, our young Loaisiga was struggling to get through innings.

That time Andrew started Pine Tar Gate

Struggling was the theme in Jonathan Loaisiga’s three starts this year. They weren’t very good, and now knowing his health, that may have been the problem. Whatever the case, as a starter Loaisiga was only able to muster up 11 IP. He walked 7 batters, gave up 7 earned runs and his saving grace was his 9.8 K/9 ratio.

His ability to strike guys out was there, but it was still a far cry from where he was last year as a starter. In 4 starts in 2018 he was pretty solid – with his only crux being the walks. In those starts he had:

18 IP, 3 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, .227 Opponent AVG, 10.5 K/9, 2.63 K/BB

This week, the Yankees finally activated Jonathan Loaisiga from the 60 day IL and added him to the bullpen. Now let me know if you’ve heard this story before. A young pitcher with brilliant stuff who was inconsistent as a starter. We saw the greatness at times, but he had trouble putting it together. It wasn’t until he was moved into a relief role did we see his unaniMOus potential come to fruition.

Now that Johnny Lasagna is in the pen, I want him to do a few things. One is to stay healthy. Health has been an issue his entire career starting from when he was first signed by the Giants. The next is to take this major league stint and never put on a damn RailRiders jersey again. If you want some Analytics Porn take a look at this wonderful slice of Lasagna’s Savant rankings:

He’s in the top 90% in the league in fastball velocity, top 89% in the league in fastball spin, and top 89% in the league in curveball spin. What he’s gonna need to do is dominate with his fastball though. That’s been an issue this year, as a pitch which should be one of his primary weapons has been tattooed for a .381 AVG. He’s already dominating with his change-up (.125 AVG) and curveball (.127 AVG), so getting that fastball in check could make him INCREDIBLY lethal. One thing that should give you solace in Loaisiga’s potential though is his .226 Expected Batting Average.

If you’re wondering why the Yankees didn’t make a trade at the deadline, Loasiga is one of those reasons. They are hoping he can hone in on that 2018 run, when he was dealing after his first call up.

How to Best Utilize That Lasagna Sauce

I went from absolutely hating the opener to trying to figure out how I can incorporate this strategy into everything I write. If staying healthy and pitching deep into games are Loaisiga’s issues, maybe the best way to utilize him is as an opener.

As an opener, they can keep his innings down while also not stressing his body by having him throw 100 pitches every five days.

Either they use him as in that role, or the Yanks could start a game with Chad Green and then put in a long man for a few innings. From there, you could bring in Jonathan Loaisiga. 3 IP from Chad, 3 IP from the long man and 2 – 3 IP from Loaisiga could be a pretty ruthless combination, especially if that long man is Luis Severino. Everyone wants to talk about an ace performance; well, given the circumstances, you potentially have a three-headed dragon of absolute gas and devastation there.