Jonathan Loaisiga went into the season with sky-high expectations, with some observers waiting for the right-hander to be replaced by Aroldis Chapman as the Yankees close.
But after proving to be one of the league’s best helpers a year ago, Loaisiga got off to a slow start.
The Yankees and pitching coach Matt Blake helped the right-hander make some minor mechanical adjustments recently, but he was still hurt by a triple homer by the Orioles’ Austin Hays on Tuesday.
Given the lack of early results and the fact that his speed has dropped slightly it seemed fair to wonder about the 27-year-old’s health, but Blake insisted Loaisiga is doing well physically.
“I think it’s a product of players being aware of who he is and he has to fight that,” Blake said ahead of the Yankees’ 5-2 win over the Orioles on Wednesday night. “His speed will increase as we go along, but so far his slider hasn’t had that much lateral breakage and his sinker hasn’t sunk that much. He just wasn’t that sharp.”
This has led to a decrease in strikeouts and an increase in walks. He averages 8.1 strikeouts and 6.8 walks per nine innings through 6 ²/₃ innings after averaging 8.8 and 2.0 in 70 ²/₃ innings last season.
“There are little things that we need to iron out and bring him back to where he can open up different options and not be one dimensional by sliding up and in and then away,” Blake said. “He’s not quite the same version [as last year].”
Manager Aaron Boone has kept his faith in Loaisiga, calling him out in Tuesday’s eighth inning when he hung a breaking ball on Hays, resulting in a three-run homer. He missed three home runs all of last season and has already conceded two this year.
“Eventually you’re going to take lumps,” Boone said. “He did some shots here early in the season. I’m not overly concerned. All devices are there. The stuff is there. He just has to dial in his command. He has to fight his way through that stretch when he’s popped a bit and we have to make sure he understands how good a pitcher he is.
Jameson Taillon, who will make his fourth start of the season Thursday afternoon, said while he’s heard from other pitchers that they’ve noticed differences in baseballs used from outing to outing, he hasn’t noticed anything.
“I had no problems,” said Taillon.
Taillon was involved in collective bargaining during the offseason MLB lockout. He said the consistency of the baseball used hasn’t surfaced, but he’s confident the MLBPA and the league can continue to work on the issue.
“I think everyone’s trying to find the right sweet spot,” Taillon said of the two sides. “I don’t think screwing up the game is a great plan for MLB. They try their best.”
Another clean game extended the Yankees’ streak to 11, which is the longest in a single season since 2012.
The Yankees started Wednesday after playing 11 games in the Bronx and six away. They have set up very different numbers at home and on the road. They had an .821 OPS and 20 home runs at the ballpark and just a .558 OPS with two home runs from home. Last season the numbers were far more even with .720 OPS at home and .738 away.
DJ LeMahieu went 0-3 for a 12-game-hitting streak. He leads the team with 19 hits and his .878 OPS is behind Anthony Rizzo.
LeMahieu is also batting after more power, which comes from being healthier than most of 2021, when he played through a sports fracture.
“He’s just really good looking,” Boone said. “He uses most of the field as well as anyone and goes the other way as well as anyone. It’s nice to see that he drives it that way too.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/28/yankees-jonathan-loaisiga-off-to-slow-start-after-strong-2021/ The Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisiga has gotten off to a slow start after a strong 2021