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Under the Hood: Chad Green is in vintage form with the Yankees

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Although the sample size is small, the righty seems to be settling down at the right time.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After a nightmarish start to the season and a subsequent stint in Triple-A Scranton, Chad Green was written off by many as an important major league contributor. Some said that he couldn’t succeed in the bigs with just one effective pitch and that the league would eventually catch up to him. After all, his career was trending downhill since his stellar 2017. It looks like he has turned a corner this season, though.

In 2018, Green was more “human,” but still very good. He put up an ERA of 2.50 (2.86 FIP), 11.18 K/9, and 1.7 fWAR. This year, he has a 4.50 ERA (3.62 FIP) with 11.95 K/9. The ERA jump has mainly been the result of a home run problem. Green went from allowing 0.52 dingers per nine innings in 2017 to 1.07 last year to 1.41 in 2019. His HR/FB mark has also been trending up, from 6.7% in 2017 to 14.1% in the current season. That, coupled with more traffic on the bases, hasn’t resulted in good things for the right-hander flamethrower.

However, comparing his overall body of work in 2019 with the previous years may not be telling the whole story. Since the August 15 “start” against the Cleveland Indians in which he allowed five earned runs and didn’t even get out of the first inning, he has been more like his 2017 self.

The sample size is so small (15.2 innings) that saying that he is back to where he was two years ago may be irresponsible, but the results he has achieved since then are remarkable.

Since August 21, Green has a 1.15 ERA with a 1.88 FIP. He has allowed only six hits, and just one of those has left the yard. With four walks and 23 strikeouts, he has also done it in flashy fashion. His strikeout and home run rates, ERA and FIP are all similar to his 2017 numbers.

One of the critical points for the recent turnaround in his performance has been his ability to attack hitters and gain an advantage in the count. It is not a secret that once the batter is 0-1, it provides the pitcher with more control over the at-bat. Green’s best F-Strike% (first-pitch strike percentage) was last year, with 69.5%. In the period covering his outings from August 21 in 2019, he has put up a 77.2% mark.

Over those 15.2 innings, hitters have managed a meager 68.2 contact percentage against the righty reliever, whereas he was at 67.1% in his excellent 2017, another sign that he may be starting to right the ship for good.

There is no doubt that Green is made for this era, breaking the molds of conventional, one-inning hurlers. The fact that he is so versatile gives Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone a lot of flexibility to work with in the postseason. It remains to be seen if he can hold this up for the next few weeks. If he can, the Bombers will be very, very difficult to beat come October.