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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Yankees say they are not worried about Jonathan Loisiga’s early-season struggles

CHICAGO – Jonathan Loisiga won, but left the game on Thursday night in search of his confidence. The Yankees’ right-hander scored in the seventh inning in a 15–7 win over the Yankees, with a runner on, a battered run and then a three-run homer.

Such has been the year for Loisiga.

“It’s the opposite of that,” Aaron Boone said of Loisiga losing command, retreating, and then running for Tim Anderson. “We saw that a couple of times and it hurt him in some of the early outings where he used to have back-to-back outings and he kind of struggled, but he has since corrected ship.

“And tonight he was just struggling with his command.”

So, the red flags aren’t going to go public with the Yankees just yet, but it’s shocking how great he was last season.

After dominating the 2021 season, in which he was closing out the game as Aroldis Chapman, struggling to find his command, Loisiga is making a very slow start to this season. The Yankees have been able to pull off their struggles, as the rest of their bullpen has been just as effective, and the offense may just be dominating teams as of Thursday night.

But it is an issue to keep an eye on.

Last season, Loisiga was 9–4 with a team-best 2.17 ERA and five saves in 57 matches.

He made 69 strikeouts and scored just 16 runs in 70.2 innings. He scored just three home runs in the entire season.

On Thursday night, Loisiga faced Anderson, the first hitter he was. He then gave Yoan Moncada a home run.

Loisiga had his eighth walk this season in 13.2 innings of the pitch. This is more than half of the walks he left in the last season. His 13.7% walk rate is the worst of his career and is in the bottom 10% of major league pitchers.

Homer was the third one to skip this season, which he allowed all into 2021. His rate of nine innings per homer (1.4) is the second worst of his career.

Loisiga has the highest hard-hitting percentage (31.3) in the last three years and the second-lowest strike percentage of his career (23.3).

Matt Blake Thinks This Is Really The Next Step For Loisiga; The league’s hitters, acknowledging how good he is, made adjustments to attack him and now he needs to make changes.

“He’s put himself on the map and people know who he is. So I think he probably has a little more understanding of what he’s going to try to do with them. So I guess now he has He has to add up and adjust to them,” said the Yankees pitching coach. “The dudes are cheating on their fastballs in some areas, and he has to be able to throw the slider a little bit more for the strike, and that sort of thing, But don’t be overly worried. You just always want to see a guy doing well and trust his words. I think his confidence will come.”

A scout watching Loisiga Thursday night noted that the sinker that was so effective last season wasn’t working for him.

“The sinker is not sinking,” said the American League scout. “He was over and middle of the plate on the Moncada homer. He doesn’t seem to have the command that made him so dominant last season as well.”

Sinker has lost speed by about a mph since last season, which may indicate where the problem lies. Loisiga is also throwing its slider around 5% more than in 2021 at the cost of its four-seam fastball. The slider has also lost about two mph from the 2021 version.

Those are things that are headed in the right direction right now, though, Blake said. He is more concerned that Loisiga finds his confidence and goes back to attack the attackers.

“I think for me, it’s just a little bit of confidence. I think he is back to attack and attack in the zone,” Blake said. “A couple of times it felt like he was around the zone. A little temporary and it’s natural. He got punched a little in the mouth [Blue Jays slugger] Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and [Orioles slugger] Austin Hayes and I think he’s getting up to full speed right now. Velo is coming and we’re just trying to size up the slider to tighten it up a bit but we’ve talked she’s healthy and getting the job done.

“He just has to keep going back out there and trusting his stuff.”

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