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Jonathan Loáisiga Could Miss Rest of Season With Rotator Cuff Strain

NEW YORK — The Yankees have dealt with huge losses to the injured list throughout this season. With the playoffs looming, and chances at a division title slipping away, this might be their biggest blow yet.

Reliever Jonathan Loáisiga was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday morning with a rotator cuff strain. Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed the right-hander won't throw for the next 10 days. 

"A tough loss for us," Boone said Sunday morning. "Hopefully it's only a couple weeks, but still, something we'll have to navigate."

In Loáisiga's place, right-hander Albert Abreu was recalled from Triple-A to add some depth to the bullpen. 

On Saturday morning, Loáisiga was sent for an MRI after he told the team he wasn't feeling right, battling some soreness. He last pitched on Friday, allowing one run to score in New York's series opener against the Orioles.

Loáisiga was then given a cortisone shot. With 10 days of rest before any chance of ramping back up, the reliever's season is now in jeopardy.

"We'll see how the next week or 10 days goes," Boone said. "I'm hopeful."

Loáisiga hasn't just been the Yankees' best reliever in 2021, he's been one of the best in the game. The 26-year-old has a 2.25 ERA over 68 innings pitched, allowing just 17 earned runs while striking out 66 batters. 

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Beyond his more traditional stat line, some of Loáisiga's numbers are truly elite. The reliever's average exit velocity (84.2 mph), xSLG (.253), xERA (2.19), HardHit% (24.3) and Chase Rate (37%) are each in the league's 98th or 99th percentile. 

Long story short, the Nicaraguan has blossomed in his role pitching in high-leverage situations.

Loáisiga had a few clunkers along the way, but while closer Aroldis Chapman has been inconsistent, Chad Green has had his speed bumps and Zack Britton has been hurt. Loáisiga has been reliable and dominant virtually every time he's been summoned out of the bullpen. 

With all the close games New York has played this year, however, Loáisiga's workload started to take a toll. The reliever has pitched in 54 games this year. That's almost four times more than his previous career-high (15 appearances).

"I think that's how it happened," Boone said. "It's always a concern of ours in how we use guys and try our best to be mindful of not overloading them. And it's been a challenge, obviously, this year with the amount of close games we've played. But hopefully, this is something that is a little bit of a timeout, and we get them back for the stretch drive."

It's worth noting that Loáisiga landed on the 60-day injured list in May 2019 with a similar injury, missing three months with a shoulder strain. That was before he made the move to the bullpen, though. 

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