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This Southpaw Is Catching the Yankees' Attention Early On This Spring

TAMPA — Lucas Luetge is catching the Yankees' attention. 

The left-hander has been lights out through his first three appearances this spring, striking out eight of the 11 batters he's faced. 

Sure, stats are often inflated at this point of the spring—only one week into exhibition games—but that's good for a strikeout-per-nine rate of 24.0.

On Sunday, the southpaw had his best outing of the spring thus far. He struck out the side in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 4-0 win against the Phillies, needing only 12 pitches to get the job done.

Asked after the game about the impression Luetge has made at camp, Yankees manager Aaron Boone was delighted, eager to see what this reliever can do next.

"I knew we were excited to sign him. He's absolutely jumped out at us going back to even the first bullpens," Boone said. "It's a really good breaking ball, it's a swing-and-miss breaking ball. He's got all the spin numbers that take you back a little bit. Even though he's not overpowering with the fastball, the fastball really plays as well."

If Luetge's name sounds familiar, but you're not quite sure why, that's because it's been a few years since he last pitched in the big leagues. The lefty played four seasons with the Seattle Mariners from 2012 to 2015 and hasn't thrown a pitch in the Majors since.

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In fact, it's been a long road for Luetge to this point. Since 2015, the 33-year-old has pitched for a different team each season during spring training. 

Over the course of his career, the southpaw has logged 589.2 innings in the minor leagues. That's compared to a total of 89 innings pitched in the Majors (all over those four seasons with the Mariners). 

Regardless of his past, Luetge is looking to make it back to the next level this season in pinstripes. He's got his work cut out for him as New York signed another left-hander, Justin Wilson, leading up to spring training. With Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton also holding it down in the bullpen, Boone may elect not to add a fourth lefty.

Then again, if Luetge keeps up the good work over the next several weeks of exhibition games, it'll be hard to keep him off this roster. 

"He's an interesting guy and he had our attention early in camp," Boone said. "His performance has validated that and continues to keep him very much in the conversation."

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