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Yankees 2021 Roster Report Cards: Chad Green

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Chad Green was a fine reliever for the Yankees in 2021 —not close to his best version, but still solid.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Once again expected to be an integral part of the Yankees’ loaded bullpen, Chad Green had a good season overall, albeit not an exceptional one. The problem may be that fans were spoiled with two truly great performances in 2017 (1.83 ERA) and 2018 (2.50 ERA), and he just hasn’t been the same after those years.

Grade: C+

2021 Statistics: 67 games, 83.2 IP, 3.12 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 3.63 xFIP, 10.7 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.6 fWAR

2022 Contract Status: Third (and last) year arbitration eligible

Those are very good numbers, but again, we have seen him do better. It’s not easy to top a 3.12 ERA, though, and overall, he was a solid bullpen arm. One alarming trend, however, is that his strikeout rate dipped for the second consecutive year: It was 33.2 percent in 2019, 32.0 percent in 2020, and it was 31.4 percent in 2021.

Green actually lowered his walks and only handed out 1.8 free passes per nine innings pitched, but home runs were a problem for him. By allowing 1.5 long balls per nine frames, he was 16th out of 144 qualified relievers in HR/9. However, he was even worse last year (1.8 HR/9), and it helped that he was stingy with walks and hits, as evidenced by his great 0.88 WHIP.

Digging deeper into his pitch usage and patterns, Green relied on his four-seamer less than ever, throwing it 65.1 percent of the time. The results were good with the offering: .253 wOBA, .282 xwOBA, and a 29.9 percent whiff rate. Green maintained top velocity (95.7 mph on average, in the 84th percentile) and spin rate (2501 rpm, in the 94th percentile) with a similar active spin rate as last season (90 percent, compared to 91.4 percent).

Green used his curveball 34.5 percent of the time and was basically a two-pitch hurler. The hook earned him the highest whiff rate of any breaking pitch thrown that much over his entire career, at 36.9 percent, and also delivered a .285 wOBA and a .260 xwOBA.

Green probably won’t get back to his 2017 self because that year he earned an otherworldly 39.5-percent whiff rate with his fastball. That helps a lot. However, he showed in 2021 that his floor is relatively high at this point.

Green’s right arm was overused by manager Aaron Boone in 2021, due in part to the first-half struggles of most of his pre-trade deadline bullpenmates outside of Jonathan Loáisiga. His off-days could get quite ugly. Green actually led all relievers in innings pitched, with 83.2, and at various points in the season — especially September — he seemed to show the effects of fatigue.

Case in point: During a four-game stint from September 8th to the 15th, Green allowed five earned runs in 4.1 innings. Boone gave him a five-day break from pitching, and he came back as good as ever, hurling 8.1 scoreless frames with two walks and ten strikeouts to close the regular season.

The hope is that the Yankees’ bullpen can be good and deep in 2022, so there is no need to burn Green’s arm so much. Next season will be crucial for him and his future, because he will be arbitration-eligible for one last time before hitting free agency if there isn’t an extension.

Green may have allowed two crucial inherited runs to score in the seventh inning of the Wild Card game against the Boston Red Sox, failing to clean up a mess and making it worse himself. However, it’s not fair to judge his season because of that frame; on the whole, it was fine.

All things considered, Green was a dependable, reliable reliever that gave the Yankees a lot of quality innings. He wasn’t close to his best version, but overall, he did a good job. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have pitched all those frames, a lot of them of the high-leverage variety.