Earlier today, the Yankees announced that they recalled right-handed pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga from Double-A Trenton. Although a starter by trade, he is expected to work primarily out of the bullpen.
Loaisiga, 23, emerged as a rising star in the Yankees’ system in 2018. Having opened the season for High-A Tampa, the right-hander quickly earned a promotion to Double-A. From there, the Yankees surprisingly called him up to join the big league rotation on June 15th. He made four starts in place of then-injured Masahiro Tanaka, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with a 2.87 FIP across 18 innings.
The Yankees optioned Loaisiga to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in early July. He landed on the disabled list a few days later, however, with right shoulder inflammation. The 23-year-old returned to them mound in mid-August, and is now a realistic option for Aaron Boone out of the bullpen.
There are some advantages to using Loaisiga in relief. First, his stuff should play up in short outings. Per Brooks Baseball, he averages 96.06 mph on his fourseam fastball. If only pitching for an inning or two at a time, he could theoretically reach back and add a notch or two to that already impressive heater. The Yankees already know he can get big leaguers out, so there’s also the benefit of not having to worry about breaking him in slowly.
A move to the bullpen will also allow Loaisiga to manage his innings. Not exactly known for durability, the right-hander has spent a significant portion of his career on the disabled list. Returning him to the rotation could place an unnecessary burden on his shoulder.
According to MLB Pipeline, Loaisiga currently ranks as the team’s third best prospect. It will be nice to see him in the big leagues again. The 2018 season has been a great success for him already. Now he can finish strong.