Jonathan Loaisiga pitched in only 24.2 innings in 2018, and while the baseline stats weren’t pretty (a 5.11 ERA and 26 hits), the then 23-year-old’s fastball velocity and impressive curveball made him an interesting young arm. He looked like he could potentially provide useful depth in both the rotation and bullpen in the near-term.
Instead, injuries and a spike in hard-hit balls made it another short and frustrating season for the righty, who is still looking to maximize his strikeout stuff and become a reliable player for the Yankees.
2019 Statistics: 31.2 innings, 4.55 ERA, 37 strikeouts, 1.48 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.95 FIP, 0.2 WAR
2020 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible
The first number that jumps out when it comes to Loaisiga’s stat line is that 4.95 FIP. Despite recording a lower ERA than in 2018, Loaisiga’s FIP was much higher than his mark of 3.52 from 2018. That was due to a dip in strikeouts and a rise in home runs allowed, which were probably a result of the fact that hitters simply squared up his fastball this year, as you can see here:
This could explain Loaisiga’s steady decrease in fastball usage, which dropped each month through the course of his abbreviated season. But when the season began, Loaisiga was effective, allowing three earned runs through his first 10 innings of work, though six walks made things stressful. That stretch was short-lived, and after getting tagged for four runs on six hits through four innings of work on May 8 against the Mariners, he was shut down and put on the 60-day IL with a shoulder strain, after missing time in 2018 with an injury as well.
It took Loaisiga some time to get back, but after throwing 5.2 innings as part of a rehab assignment, he returned to a major league mound on Aug. 15, and it did not go well. In a blowout loss to Cleveland, Loaisiga was tagged for two home runs and four earned runs total over just 2.2 innings of work.
His two outings sandwiched around his IL stint certainly didn’t help his overall numbers, but through the rest of the regular season, Loaisiga wasn’t terrible. Through his final 15 innings of the year, Loaisiga pitched to a 3.00 ERA and struck out 20 batters, but allowed 14 hits along the way. With that lively fastball and a curveball with a spin rate that’s just outside of the top-10 percentile in all of baseball, you would like to see more shutdown outings from Loaisiga, but perhaps the final month of the year was the start of a trend in the right direction.
Loaisiga pitched 2.2 innings in the postseason, and again, the shutdown stuff wasn’t there. He allowed three walks and three hits, continuing to allow traffic on the bases, which led to two runs. Loaisiga is still young and can improve (and certainly has the potential with the stuff he can bring), but until he can better locate his fastball, and also develop another plus pitch aside from his curve, he will likely continue to be seen as unfulfilled potential.