Chad Green's resurgence has come at the perfect time for the Yankees
Chad Green has been the Yankees’ best reliever in 2020, and it’s quite possible he has been the best late-inning option in the entire sport. The 29-year-old righty enters play on August 14th with a 0.82 ERA, 0.36 WHIP and 12.27 K/9. Green’s struggles early last season were well-documented, and he never entirely put them behind him in 2019. 18 games into this shortened season and that feels like ancient history.
|Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post|
Green’s resurgence is undeniably like the conversation we were having about Tommy Kahnle last season. A once elite reliever bouncing back from a down season to reestablish his late-inning dominance. Kahnle spent the 2018 season struggling with injuries and bouncing between triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and New York. He finished with an unsightly 6.56 ERA. In 2019, Kahnle returned to his 2016 and 2017 form, posting a 3.67 ERA. Now, Chad Green is the one on the comeback trail.
Last year, Green got off to about as bad of a start as a pitcher possibly can. In 6.2 April innings, Green allowed 13 runs (17.55 ERA) and was sent to Scranton not even a month into the season. This was an unimaginable fall from grace, considering Green had a microscopic 2.17 ERA in 144.2 innings between 2017 and ’18. Green returned to the Yankees in May and settled in to finish the campaign as a solid, albeit not great, reliever for the rest of 2019.
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This year, calling Green great would be a massive understatement. His 0.5 wins above replacement (per FanGraphs) is tied for second among all MLB relievers. That makes him the fourth most valuable player on the Yankees, behind only DJ LeMahieu (1.0), Aaron Judge (1.0) and Gio Urshela (0.6). He has allowed just one run and, even more amazingly, one hit, in 11 innings of work (0.82 ERA). Green has also provided length for the Yankees, working two or more innings in three of his eight appearances this season.
So, what changed? For one, Green is now using a curveball instead of a slider as his secondary pitch. There have been times over the last few seasons when Green has struggled with command of his slider and became predictable. However, the big difference for the 6’3 right hander is that his already elite fastball has become a world-class pitch. Using it 76 percent of the time, batters are…0-26 with 12 strikeouts against Green’s four-seamer this year. That’ll do.
The Chad Green curveball-fastball combo at work. pic.twitter.com/E0p1WmeqZN— Lucas A (@DBITLefty) July 26, 2020
The underlying numbers are great as well. Per Baseball Savant, Green’s expected ERA (xERA) of 1.33 is in the top one percent of MLB pitchers. In addition, his hard-hit percentage allowed is a mere 21.1. That’s in the 95th percentile of hurlers. And one more elite stat for the road. The University of Louisville alum has an expected weighted on-base average (xWOBA) of only .133, ranking in the top two percent of the league. These numbers, unsurprisingly, would all be career bests for Green.
Most importantly, this revival has come in a season where the Yankees have only gotten a combined one inning pitched from Aroldis Chapman and Tommy Kahnle at nearly the one-third mark of the regular season. And speaking of Kahnle, he has been lost for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That makes Green even more crucial as the Yankees try to navigate through this wild and unpredictable season. With Chapman nearing his return from COVID-19, and Green pitching as he has, the Yanks’ bullpen is poised to remain an elite unit in 2020, with Green leading the charge.
Article by: Jake GrazianoFollow@JakeGraziano