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Chad Green is finding his old form

When it comes to Yankee relievers, I have a special place in my heart for Chad Green. Perhaps it’s because Green was so good in 2017, when I fell in love with the next generation of Yankee stars. Or maybe it’s because of his epic, season-saving performance in the early innings of the 2017 Wild Card Game. It could be as simple as his quiet, confident demeanor on the mound. Whatever the reason, Green is my guy.

During the first few weeks of the 2021 season, Chad’s contributions have gone somewhat under the radar. Cole and Chapman are doing historic stuff, Loaisiga is blossoming into a legitimate stud, and Kluber’s resurgence has been a major story. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Green has quietly given the Yankees good inning after good inning. Green’s stellar start to the season hasn’t garnered a ton of attention, but it could end up being one of the most important developments for this Yankee pitching staff.

The Two Chads

Looking back through Green’s numbers, it’s easy to see a dividing line that cuts his career in half. There’s the Chad Green of 2017-2018, and then there’s the Chad Green of 2019-2020. Here are his stats side-by-side from those two periods:

2017/2018 2019/2020
144.2 IP 94.2 IP
2.18 ERA 3.99 ERA
200 ERA+ 112 ERA+
0.899 WHIP 1.120 WHIP
12.3 K/9 12.4 K/9
2.0 BB/9 2.6 BB/9
0.8 HR/9 1.4 HR/9

The numbers pretty much speak for themselves. While Green was still an excellent reliever from 2019 to 2020, he definitely wasn’t as strong as he had been during the two prior seasons. More home runs, more walks, and more runs made Chad’s numbers look less impressive. In 2017 and 2018, Green was virtually unhittable. Since then, he’s been very good—but he hasn’t been the amazing pitcher that we all know he can be.

Finding It

So far, the 2021 edition of Chad Green looks a lot like the guy that we watched from 2017 to 2018.

19.1 IP
2.33 ERA
174 ERA+
0.776 WHIP
9.8 K/9
1.4 BB/9
1.4 HR/9

Though Chad’s strikeout numbers are a bit low this season (at least in comparison to his typically high standard), the rest of his stat line looks fantastic. He’s walking fewer batters than ever before, and his 2021 WHIP (0.776) is almost even with his 2017 WHIP (0.739), which was the lowest of his career. Before he got tagged by Altuve, Green had only allowed a single run over his previous 10 innings and his ERA for the season was 1.02.

Can’t Touch This

Some of Green’s advanced metrics help explain the success that he’s experienced in 2021.  Chad is hitting the zone with 53.7% of his pitches, which is his highest mark since 2018. Because Green is peppering the zone, hitters are having a more difficult time laying off of the pitches that he throws outside of it. The contact rate on pitches that Chad throws outside of the strike zone is currently 40.7%, the lowest number of his career. In fact, hitters are having trouble making contact with Green’s pitches in general. His swing and miss rate of 33.8% is the highest it has been since his outstanding 2017 campaign (it also puts him in the 84th percentile for whiff percentage league-wide).

This Green Is Gold

If Chad Green can maintain his current level of play for the rest of the season, it’ll be a major boost for the Yankee pitching staff. He’s been both consistent and versatile, and he’s helped the Yankees turn things around after their sluggish start to the 2021 campaign. I’m confident that this is just the beginning of what could be Green’s best season since 2018.