Brian Cashman has done such a good job with our dominant bullpen, that it’s easy to lose sight of this particular player. He’s not the former red-bull chugging, sprinting in from the bullpen, hair-on-fire-type like Tommy Kahnle. He’s not a huge free agent signing, like Adam Ottavino or Zack Britton. He’s not the 103mph fastball-chucking lefty Aroldis Chapman. He’s quiet, unassuming, and never shows any emotion on the mound. He’s also been one of the best relievers in the last few months, and the Yankees should leverage that more in the ALCS.
After a rough start to the 2019 season that saw him give up 14 runs in his first 10 games, the Yankees sent Green down to AAA to work on his mechanics. While in Scranton, Green and his coaches changed the location of his hands before his delivery. The FS1 broadcast made note of this during game 3 of the ALDS:
For whatever reason, this small mechanical change added the life back to Green’s fastball that he had been missing. Since Green returned from AAA, his numbers in 61.1 innings are as follows: 2.64 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 13.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9. Those numbers are simply outstanding, and particularly, his strikeout and walk rates are identical to his monstrous 2017 season. Take a look at his velocity improvement after he made the change with his hands (via brooks baseball):
That’s what Chad Green is known for. A high spin rate fastball (2484 RPM in 2019) that is really tough to square up. Out of pitchers with over 1000 fastballs thrown, Green ranks 13th in spin rate out of 274 pitchers.
Green also made some changes to his slider grip while he was in the minors. He only throws it about 22% of the time, but hitters this year are only hitting .224 off of it after a whopping .393 last year. He also has a 15.6 whiff % on the pitch, improving from last year’s 9.9%. I’m not advocating for Green to throw more sliders, because it’s obviously his second best pitch, but sneaking a few in this season has helped his fastball to play up.
That is exactly what Austin Romine told Joel Sherman earlier this season: “The hitters are more between his slider and his fastball, and it just allows his fastball to play up so much more,” he said. “It is such a benefit to get it in the mix.”
The Yankees got into a jam in game 3 of the ALDS in the 5th inning. Tommy Kahnle came in and gave up a hit and then got two hard hit outs so Boone want to Adam Ottavino to face the dangerous Nelson Cruz. Unfortunately, he walked Cruz on four pitches. This is the worry with Ottavino; he can be wild at times (5.43 BB/9). It is probably best to start him with a clean inning to give him that cushion.
Perhaps Chad Green should be used in this “fireman” type of role going forward in the playoffs. He can be used to get out jams, and then pitch a clean next inning. After all, he flourished in that role in 2017.