A lot can change over the course of a couple of years, especially with relief pitchers. These pitchers tend to show high volatility in their performance, and Chad Green has certainly demonstrated that. In 2017, he was relied upon to get big outs for the New York Yankees on their run to Game Seven of the ALCS. Six months ago, he was optioned to Triple-A.
When Luis Severino recorded only one out in the 2017 AL Wild Card game, Green was the first Yankee reliever out of the bullpen. He pitched two innings and struck out four, allowing one run, which scored when an inherited runner crossed home plate against David Robertson. At times this year, that version of Green appeared to be long gone.
Nonetheless, Green left the bullpen as the first reliever in to face the Houston Astros lineup on Sunday when James Paxton only recorded seven outs. He pitched two, hitless innings. Aaron Boone‘s decision to take him out while continuing his mix and match strategy will garner questions. What will not garner any questions is Green’s ability to once again get big outs for the Yankees.
Sunday night’s game ended hours after Chad Green had left the game. That being said, when he was used and how he performed signify just how far he has come since April.
Green was a reliable arm out of the bullpen in 2017. He totaled 69 innings pitched that year with a 1.83 ERA. His H/9 was 4.4, a remarkably low number, as were his BB/9 of 2.2. Altogether, his WHIP sat at 0.739 for the season.
Additionally, he struck batters out at a 13.4 per nine innings pace. His ERA+ sat at 248. As a result, he was named a top-100 player in MLB by the analysts of MLB Network prior to 2018.
2018-2019 Inconsistencies, Triple-A, And Resurgence
2018 was another good year for Green although a definite step back from 2017. His BB/9 did go down from 2.2 to 1.8, but his K/9 regressed from 13.4 to 11.2. His home run rate doubled from 0.5 to 1.1 per nine innings, and his H/9 rose from 4.4 to 7.6.
In 75.2 innings pitched, his ERA sat at 2.50 and his ERA+ sat at 168. On the surface, none of these numbers would draw concerns, but they represent a clear regression from 2017 to 2018.
This was expected given how good Green was in 2017, but the inconsistencies were certainly not expected. The majority was good with four months of an ERA of 2.40 or lower, including an ERA of 0.00 in June. That being said, the other two months saw Green struggle with a 3.86 ERA in May and a 4.91 ERA in July.
Overall, Green had another great year, but the two months of struggles were a cause for concern. They would manifest in an ugly way for Green early in 2019.
Demotion To Triple-A
Green did not start off 2019 well. His ERA was 16.43 in March/April. This includes a stretch from April 9th to April 23rd where he allowed 12 hits and 12 earned runs in three-and-a-third innings pitched, a 32.40 ERA.
As a result, Green was optioned to Triple-A, just a year removed from being considered one of the best relief pitchers in MLB.
Being An Opener
Green returned to the Yankees on May 13th with the opportunity to fight his way back into high leverage innings, but he was not thrust into those spots right away.
Green wavered between opener and a reliever that came in during mostly low leverage situations. He started 15 games as an opener and came in for relief in 29 other games. The lack of a consistent role had its impact on Green’s performance. Since his return, he has had two months with an ERA over 4.50.
That being said, he has also shown flashes of his 2017 brilliance, including a 2.89 ERA in the second half. In June, he had a 0.69 ERA with a 13.8 K/9, walking just one batter. He saw similar success in September with a 0.68 ERA, 17.6 K/9, and three walks. All of this shows that he has found what led to his previous successes.
Green has ridden that momentum into the postseason. The result was two scoreless innings in the ALDS, and his performance in Game Two of the ALCS.
On Sunday night, everything came full circle for Chad Green. With everything clicking for the right-handed-pitcher and his April struggles a distant memory, he was once again the first pitcher called on to get crucial outs early and keep the Yankees in the game. It has not been the easiest journey, but he has managed to find himself just in time for the postseason.
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