Since Domingo German hit the injured list earlier this month, the Yankees have deployed Chad Green and Nestor Cortes every fifth day. Although this wasn’t part of the plan before the season, it’s been quite effective. Take a look at what they’ve done in the last three turns:
The duo has been nothing short of excellent as the club’s de facto fifth starter. Perhaps that’s due to the abrupt change in look opponents see once Cortes comes in. Green starts off with blazing fastballs whereas Cortes comes in with all sorts of arm angles and pitch speeds.
Nonetheless, why this has been so successful is a story for another day. Rather, despite the merit of the Green and Cortes combination, the bullpen would benefit from having Green back. Yesterday, he pitched in relief for the first time since June 6th.
Because Green pitched yesterday, he won’t start tonight. Given the two off days upcoming and Domingo German’s expected return next week, there’s a decent chance he’s back in the bullpen for an extended period again. This is a good thing; it pushes Jonathan Holder and Tommy Kahnle back in the pecking order.
Kahnle has been mostly good this season, though he has allowed runs in three of his last seven appearances. Probably just a rough patch, but considering how Green has looked, Kahnle should probably take a step back behind Green. Holder, on the other hand, has been dreadful. He got bombed last night and was demoted thereafter.
Fortunately, despite Kahnle’s recent woes and Holder’s season-long issues, Aaron Boone didn’t have to use either of the two in high leverage spots while Green was in the rotation. Neither have entrance leverage indexes above 0.63 since June 6th, which is very low. Still, that wasn’t going to last forever. After all, he had to use Holder in a two-run game against Houston last weekend, and that did not go well. More of that was coming down the pipeline because Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino can’t pitch every inning before the ninth.
Thus far, Boone has done a good job not running Ottavino or Britton into the ground. Since Green became the opener, Ottavino and Britton have thrown 6.1 and 5 innings a piece. That makes for under a 60 inning pace over a full season. But, part of that is because they haven’t been needed as often during the team’s recent strong play. If Green were to remain in the rotation, surely those two would eventually feel added pressure. And as mentioned, on the flip side, Holder and Kahnle could pitch more often in order to prevent overuse. Not a good combination!
In addition to the concern about using Kahnle and Holder more often, the bullpen is already a man down in the first place. Dellin Betances, arguably the team’s best reliever, has been out all season with no timetable for return. Consequently, using Green to start every fifth day has put the ‘pen down two pitchers.
Now, just because German should be back next week doesn’t mean the rotation will be infallible. German is on an innings limit and the Yankees have no shortage of starters with injury concerns. In an ideal scenario, Luis Severino will rejoin the team after the break, but that’s still a ways away. A lot can happen between now and then which would require Green to be an opener once again.
After what we saw from Green to start the year, it’s kind of funny to think about how much he’d help the bullpen now. But it’s true; he’s been mostly excellent since his return from the minor leagues. Hopefully, German is ready to go next week and Severino not too long after. That’d allow Green to remain where he fits best.