Jonathan Loaisiga should be next man up in Yankees' rotation

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve heard it said before, “you can never have too much pitching.” That’s because it’s essentially impossible for a Major League team to go through an entire season using just five starting pitchers. Take last season, when the Yankees used 11 different starters to get through the 2018 campaign. The team needs to have a backup plan in place. And for New York, that backup plan is pretty obvious.

The next man up in the rotation should be Jonathan Loaisiga. In four starts last season, an admittedly small sample size, Loaisiga had a 3.00 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 18 innings. The 24-year-old righty also struck out 21, while handing out eight free passes. The high walk rate shouldn’t be cause for concern, however, as Loaisiga walked just eight in 56 Minor League innings last year. The increase at the Major League level can probably be chalked up to nerves and pinching at the corners.

Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports

It was a meteoric rise for Loaisiga last season as he began 2018 as the team’s 14th ranked prospect ( and at single-A advanced Tampa. After last year’s success, the native Nicaraguan heads into 2019 as New York’s number two prospect, and ranked 66th in all of baseball. On top of the counting stats presented earlier, Loaisiga also has a fastball that averages 96 miles per hour, a nasty curveball (see below) and a quality change.

When considering the Yankees’ need for extra starting pitching, it’s obvious. CC Sabathia enters 2019 as a 38-year-old veteran that underwent major heart surgery back in December. Moreover, the big lefty faded as the season went on last year. He had a 5.48 ERA in July and 5.40 ERA in September. It’s hard to know what he’ll be able to contribute this season. In addition, James Paxton has only made more than 24 starts one time in his six MLB seasons (28 last year). Someone is going to have to step up at some point in the season.

It’s also no secret that the other in-house options leave much to be desired. Domingo German struggled mightily as a starter last year with a 6.19 ERA in 14 starts. As a reliever, he had a much more respectable 3.12 ERA and1.27 WHIP in 17.1 innings. That should be his role in the future. Luis Cessa has proven to be a mediocre option in parts of three Big League seasons, with a career 4.71 ERA. The 26-year-old also owns a suspect 4.93 ERA in 19 career starts. Both pitchers are also without Minor League options, so they could be on the chopping block if they don’t show enough during Spring Training.

Elsewhere on the 40-man roster, there are three inexperienced, albeit interesting, options in Chance Adams, Domingo Acevedo and Albert Abreu. Adams started 2018 as the team’s number two prospect and with high expectations. Unfortunately, the righty pitched to a 4.78 ERA in 23 starts at triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and floundered in three MLB appearances (7.04 ERA). Moving forward, it’s hard to know what to expect from Adams. As for Acevedo and Abreu, neither have pitched in an MLB game, so it’s impossible to rely on either at this point.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Heading into 2019, New York has five starters (Severino, Paxton, Tanaka, Happ and Sabathia) and six relievers (Chapman, Betances, Britton, Ottavino, Green and Holder) solidly in place for the Opening Day roster. This leaves one or two spots in the bullpen for the pitchers named above and other relief options like Tommy Kahnle and Stephen Tarpley. One of those spots will likely go to a long reliever, and it will probably come down to Cessa, German and Loaisiga.

Even if Loaisiga has the best Spring of the bunch, he should not be used in that role. It’s important for the team to continue grooming his as a starter by sending him down to triple-A until needed in that role. It’s the best way to maximize his talents for the future.  As for how the young righty has done so far this Spring, he threw two scoreless innings on Sunday with one walk and two strikeouts. Let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come in 2019.

Be sure to check out Mary Grace Donaldson's piece on Jonathan Loaisiga's breakout chances in 2019:

Article by: Jake Graziano


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