With only three starters from the Yankees’ anticipated starting rotation healthy, it was a foregone conclusion that the team would have to tap into their minor league depth for a fifth starter. With Luis Cessa working out of the bullpen, it was Jonathan Loaisiga who got the call. The team announced that the right-hander will start this afternoon’s series finale against the Tigers. As a corresponding move, CC Sabathia finished his suspension and transferred directly to the 10-day injured list.
Loaisiga, 24, checks in as the team’s top pitching prospect. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the club’s number-two prospect overall. The pitcher made nine appearances with the Yankees last season, where he posted a 5.11 ERA with a 3.53 FIP. A disastrous September spell in the bullpen, however, inflated his stats. Across four starts in June and July, Loaisiga pitched to a 3.00 ERA (2.88 FIP) with a 10.50 K/9 rate and a 60% groundball rate. He capably held his own in the rotation before landing on the injured list with a shoulder strain.
Spring training proved less kind for the 24-year-old. Loaisgia allowed 13 runs (12 earned) across 16 innings pitched. He competed in earnest to break camp with the team, but his 6.75 ERA made him a late cut. Nonetheless, the Yankees feel confident in his ability to pitch at the big league level.
“Coming up here and having a level of success for us had to have given him some confidence,’’ Aaron Boone told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s really talented. He has a chance to be a really good pitcher in this league.’’
Sabathia, meanwhile, completed his five-game suspension for throwing at Jesus Sucre in last September’s incident with the Rays. The 38-year-old proceeded to the injured list, where he will build up strength after undergoing offseason knee surgery and an angioplasty. Boone expects the veteran southpaw to join the rotation later this month. Sabathia finished the 2018 season with a 3.65 ERA (4.16 FIP) over 153 innings. The 2019 campaign will be his final year pitching before retirement.