The Yankees were full of feel-good stories in 2017. One of the less talked about stories was the success of Chad Green, who would have been a legitimate candidate for Rookie of the Year had Aaron Judge not went on his dinger barrage. Green was stellar out of the bullpen, finishing the 2017 season with a 1.83 ERA while averaging 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Green’s electric fastball was perfect for his bullpen role last season, coming in for multiple innings to bridge the gap to the back end of the pen. Despite the success, Brian Cashman has said the 26-year-old will enter spring training as a starting pitcher. While prepping Green to be a starter is a good call, he should return to the bullpen once the regular season begins.
Quality starting pitching is harder to find than a hard-throwing reliever, so it makes sense for Cashman and the Yankees to see if Green can make an impact in the starting rotation. Still, now that the team has brought back CC Sabathia to fill out the rotation, Green’s value is in a relief role to keep the bullpen strong.
Considering the Yankees have been talking to the Pirates to acquire Gerrit Cole, and have now been rumored to be interested in Yu Darvish, there might be a concern about the innings of Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery. However, Green would pose a similar problem as a first-year starter, so Cole or Darvish would stabilize a complete and stacked rotation, while Green can stay in the bullpen, where he was so effective last season.
Other options for a sixth starter are the likes of Luis Cessa, which is probably why the Yankees are still on the hunt for another quality starting pitcher. They need an established starter to take over should Sabathia or Montgomery need a rest or a starter goes down with an injury. Green could be used as a spot starter should something unfortunate occur in the rotation, but he should be a consistent presence in relief, where he was almost unhittable in 2017.
Whatever the Yankees decide to do with Green, as long as they don’t establish a list of ‘Chad Rules,’ he should be fine. The last thing the Yankees want to do is toy around too much between starter and reliever and send him down a Joba Chamberlain-like path. Green was the best reliever for the Yankees in 2017, and with the rotation filled out and still waiting on possible additions, Green fits best in the bullpen.