Back in June, I wrote a piece about Chad Green. At this time the Yankees were sliding into a horrible, horrible slump, and their bullpen was partially to blame. Tyler Clippard was getting high leverage spots, Dellin Betances’ command was nonexistent, and the team had yet to acquire David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
Green was still there, though, and he wasn’t really being utilized effectively. Up to the date in that article (June 22nd), Green had the sixth-lowest gmLI, or the leverage index when you enter the game out of the bullpen. I wouldn’t say he’s going to improve in the rankings themselves, most likely because they’ve also added Kahnle and Robertson, but his profile and overall leverage have definitely shifted in a more positive direction. He has also gotten appreciation by the fan base; the idea for this post was spawned from the Yankees finally tweeting about it:
And since the break, @chadgreen24 has struck out a MLB-best 49.2% (32-of-65) of his batters faced. pic.twitter.com/R7rOGCADi2— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 15, 2017
It’s not a huge difference in leverage, but it’s a difference. In the first half, Green’s gmLI was 1.05. In the second half, it’s 1.37. It doesn’t make him Aroldis Chapman-level of leverage, but he is still within .5 of both Adam Warren and Betances, unarguably elite relievers. Over time, you see this trend of entering Joe Girardi’s circle of trust:
His results, as mentioned above, have been excellent. In the second half, Green has a: 46 ERA-, 24 FIP-, the aforementioned 49.2% strikeout rate, and 0.8 fWAR, the most in a Yankees bullpen that has excelled in the second half.
The reasons why are pretty much the same as in my previous article, with some further elaboration. His slider is still his out-pitch, and it’s generating even more whiffs:
While doing this, he has also proved that both his horizontal...
...and vertical movement...
have been very consistent all year. You can also notice that he is generating even more vertical movement on the slider, hence the whiffs.
Relievers are a finicky bunch, as we all know. The Yankees do have a great track record of maintaining elite relief performance over time, like with Mariano Rivera, Robertson, and Betances. Whether that translates here is unknown, other than the fact we can give them credit for finding Green his niche with his nasty slider. Green’s 2017 performance has been great so far, and we should appreciate it while we can. Think about all of the supposed “elite” relievers that came through the Bronx and immediately flamed out, and the same can be said with... pretty much any other ball club.
For now, I’m going to hold tight to the fastball and slider combination that I love and embrace how good he really is. With the clique of elite relievers that will likely scoop up most high leverage spots, I don’t know how much more trusted he’ll be. As the season progresses, and Girardi inevitably finds himself with the rest of his pitchers depleted, Green will step in, and succeed. Deep into a possible playoff series, having an elite sixth reliever makes a world of a difference.