The long ball continued to torment Chad Green in the Subway Series, as the reliever allowed two homers in as many innings.
Green was credited with a blown save against the Mets on Saturday after allowing a two-run shot to James McCann, but the Yankees won that game. Green took the loss on Sunday after Francisco Lindor hit his third dinger of the evening.
Green has allowed 13 home runs this season, a career worst. Entering play Tuesday, only Adam Plutko (15) has allowed more among relief pitchers. Only Alex Reyes and Yimi García (8) have lost more games than Green (7) in relief.
A highly trusted member of New York’s bullpen for years, Green owns a 3.28 ERA this season despite his home run woes. However, he has a 4.32 ERA over his last 25 innings (20 games). More than half of the homers he’s surrendered have come over that stretch.
Nonetheless, Aaron Boone remains confident in the hard-throwing reliever. But the manager also acknowledged Green’s dinger dilemma and reasoned that some of his struggles stem from the righty’s frequent usage.
"I still feel like he's in a really good spot,” Boone said before Tuesday’s game against Baltimore. “I’ve used him a ton, and probably unfairly a little bit to him where he’s always the guy that carries that high-leverage workload when we’re staying away [from certain pitchers]. Obviously, we try to protect him as much as we can, but the reality is we've leaned on him a ton. I still feel like he's one of the outstanding relievers in this sport and I feel like he’s actually throwing the ball like that.”
The numbers disagree with the last part of Boone’s statement, but the skipper is right about leaning heavily on Green. He regularly throws on back-to-back days, and no Yankees pitcher has made more appearances this season (59). None of New York’s relievers have thrown more innings (74), either. The Yankees’ closer, Aroldis Chapman (1.94) is the only member of the bullpen with a higher game-entering leverage index than Green (1.82).
So Green’s recent performance creates a bit of a catch-22, especially with the rest of the Yankees’ bullpen currently limited in terms of arms and talent. Boone thinks Green may not be at his best because of how often he’s being used, but the manager has few pitchers who have proven to be reliable over an extended period of time. Green has been, even if he’s slumped lately.
Boone will have to be wise about when he uses Green over the next few weeks in order to keep him fresh for the rest of the regular season and possibly October. But with every game so crucial to New York’s playoff hopes, the manager is still going to turn to one of his most traditionally dependable relievers when he needs to.
“He’s gonna pitch in some big games for us down the stretch,” Boone said, “and hopefully beyond.”
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