History will likely view the 2022 New York Yankees in a strange fashion. The first word that will come to mind is inconsistency, which is rather strange for a 99-win team, but also completely understandable for anyone familiar with how those 99 wins came together. A ballclub that was on pace for a record-breaking season in the first half ultimately faltered in the latter part of the season and came dangerously close to losing a division title that seemed like an inevitability at one point.
This season came to an end on Sunday, with a very demoralizing sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros, and before diving into all that went wrong, and all that needs to be improved moving forward, I want acknowledge one player that actually performed well in the playoffs, even if the final taste will be a bit sour.
Jonathan Loáisiga was ultimately the losing pitcher in Game 4 of the ALCS, the Yankees’ final game of the season. Things could have gone differently in his third inning of work, as Aaron Boone challenged Loáisiga after the right-hander had handled two scoreless innings in relief of the injured Nestor Cortes, but Jose Altuve reached on an infield single that began a two-run frame for the Astros. Loáisiga still had a chance to get out it, and but couldn’t, giving up back-to-back hits to Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman.
However, if you look at the entire body of work for Loáisiga in the postseason, and also the fact that the damage he allowed in the last game came when he was facing the same part of the order for a second time in the game, the overall performance was very strong for the Yankee reliever in this postseason.
That one earned run in Game 4 of the ALCS was the only one that Loáisiga conceded throughout the playoffs, as he came into that game with nine innings of scoreless work dating back to the beginning of the ALDS. Loáisiga took the mound in two-thirds of the Yankees’ games in this postseason and proved pivotal, particularly in the series against the Guardians. One must simply look at which hitters a reliever comes in to face, to understand the confidence that the manager has in him, and Loáisiga routinely came on against the heart of Cleveland’s order in key situations and allowed nothing through, and that includes inherited runners. Any sticky situation that popped up, Boone felt confident going to Loáisiga, and Loáisiga made good on that confidence.
Loáisiga was leaned on again in the ALCS, and fared well up until that last inning. In Game 2, Loáisiga came into a high-leverage spot with the Yankees down by a run, and kept the Astros off the board for two innings, including a key double play with two on, and one out. A moment like that could warrant a mention in a championship DVD should a team go on to win it all, but in this universe, it doesn’t get the proper recognition because the Yankee offense didn’t do its part.
Most importantly, Loáisiga looked the part in dealing against Cleveland and Houston. He brushed 100 mph with his sinker in Game 4, and sat around 98 to 99 mph for the postseason, fearlessly challenging hitters with his restored power. This was a welcome end-of-season sight after Loáisiga struggled at the start of the season, with the right-hander getting hit hard and showcasing velocity below his standards.
Obviously, the ALCS was a disaster overall, but in looking for positive notes from this postseason, Loáisiga was one of the few, carrying over a strong finish to the regular season into valuable playoff innings. The Yankees should feel good about penciling him in to the back of their bullpen heading into 2023.