When you look at Chad Green’s total body of work on the season, you’d probably say it’s been a pretty good one. An 80 ERA- with a 2.95 SIERA and the league’s most innings pitched at 75.1 IP, he’s certainly looking good statistically. Then you look at his recent outings and see that the numbers have been getting worse as of late. In his last 8.1 IP, he’s given up four HRs and has a 7.56 ERA, with all three HRs being go-ahead shots. What’s wrong with the normally consistent Green? While recency bias has made people think he’s always been an unreliable arm, it wasn’t that long ago that he was one of the most valuable relievers in the sport. By looking at his pitch selection and his pitches, we can try to pinpoint what’s wrong with Green.
September is by far Green’s worst month for his fastball, and that’s despite the fact that his curveball has a .193 wOBA against in the month. His best and most reliable pitch is being hit a ton this month. When Austin Hays hit that 2-run HR off of Green, he threw an 0-2 fastball in the zone. This set off Yankee fans, as many pointed to the fact that Hays could’ve chased a high fastball, and on 0-2 you have room to play around with elevation. This led me to look and see if Green had thrown his fastball in the zone more than usual this month, and here’s what I found:
Green may have a 59% zone% for his fastballs which is up from his 55.6% zone% last month, but his highest zone% was the month of April, and as previously mentioned, his fastball had a .087 wOBA in that month. There has to be something about his fastball location beyond just that he’s throwing more fastballs in the zone.
Time to make some coffee and try to take another crack at this.
Poor Fastball Location
One of the biggest problems with just looking at zone% like I did earlier is that it doesn’t truly capture what command is. Most spikes in wOBA on a pitch are due to poor location, which is a result of fatigue at times. Green has pitched the most innings out of the bullpen in Major League Baseball at 75.1 IP. The gap between him and Duane Underwood Jr. of the Pirates is larger than the difference between second and eighth. We’re onto something here; could Green be losing sharpness now as the innings pile up? Let’s get a rolling chart up on the screen.
Green’s Z-Contact% and the ERA are both rapidly climbing. Z-Contact% is contact made on pitches in the zone, which could mean that Green’s not getting enough elevation on his fastball. The climbing ERA is the self-explanatory result of said elevation (or lack thereof). Green’s giving up more contact and because of it, he’s giving up more runs. Green’s reliant on his ability to generate whiffs, and the Yankees are going to need to rest Green so he can do so effectively.
When in tandem, Green’s command of his fastball alongside its peripherals makes him deadly. Without the stuff or the location, he’s still deadly, but it’s deadly to the Yankees. Green needs rest, and so the Yankees will need other guys to step up. Start him out in lower leverage spots and let him build his confidence back up before the gauntlet we have to run against Boston, Toronto, and Tampa.