Jonathan Loáisiga was one of the few players who had his best performance of the 2022 season while the team was in the middle of their near-collapse. On the offensive side, it was the Aaron Judge show, but on the pitching side, the bullpen was led by Loáisiga’s 2021-esque pitching.
That being said, it’s confusing to evaluate Loáisiga’s season on the whole because of it. While the team was clicking on all cylinders, the 27-year-old right-hander was in the middle of a steep downfall from the previous season. Coming off the tail of 2021, he had some issues with this throwing shoulder and I’m very willing to bet that same injury was nagging him enough during his struggles, especially considering he went on the shelf for a bit with the same injury.
Either way, Loáisiga recovered strongly and was probably the best overall pitcher in postseason play. If we are taking that performance into consideration, then there is no question that he is deserving of a high grade. Well, like many Yankees fans, the folks here at PSA hold strong weight in the playoffs. Here is our grade and Loáisiga’s end of the year stat line.
2022 Season Statistics: 48 IP, 4.13 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 59.6% GB%,
2023 Contract Status: First-year arbitration eligible
It’s tough to look at those numbers and end up giving Loáisiga a grade above a B+ (the collective mark), but given that he had a 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings in the playoffs, I was personally willing to do so regardless. With Clay Holmes less reliable down the stretch, he once again became the most trusted reliever in the bullpen come October.
My personal grade for Loáisiga was an A, and I think that’s more than justifiable. There is no questioning his bad performances in the first half, but many relievers don’t recover and bounce back like J.Lo did. We are all aware of the volatility of relievers. On a year-to-year basis, it’s difficult to know how much you can rely on any given pen arm. However, the Yankees stopper defied that generalization mid-season and went back to being their most reliable reliever.
Against Houston, Loáisiga was extremely effective against lefties and righties, coming in any situation and breaking bats and forcing groundballs. When it comes to high-leverage relievers, he is in a class of his own. I say that because most of the league’s best rely on strikeouts. That’s okay, but what if you have a pitcher that excels at getting groundballs and there are runners on? Two outs are more than one. Don’t get me wrong, that means you have to rely on the defense being competent, but it’s nice to have the option and diversity in the pen.
Heading into next season, Loáisiga will be healthy and already aware of how he feels when he isn’t healthy ... and how he can bounce back if he doesn’t perform to his standards. Those tidbits are important. This is completely anecdotal and perhaps narrative driven, but there is value in overcoming struggles in the big leagues, because when in the face of your next issue, you already have a process in place that gets you back on track.
Other relievers break out for a year or two then never get back to what they briefly were, but it seems like that isn’t what Loáisiga will be. His sinker is special. His confidence is palpable and he has developed a mini sweeper a deceptive changeup that very closely mirrors his sinker. That’s an arsenal that will continue to play and shouldn’t so easily be put in the “relievers are volatile” boat.