The back end of the Yankees’ bullpen took another big blow on Sunday — and that was before it blew a game against the Orioles.
Jonathan Loaisiga, who has been the Yankees’ most reliable high-leverage reliever this season, was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with a strained rotator cuff. The right-hander will not throw for at least 10 days, but manager Aaron Boone said he is “hopeful” Loaisiga will be able to return before the season is over.
“Obviously that’s a tough loss for us, which hopefully is only a couple weeks, but still something we’ll have to navigate,” Boone said.
The Yankees immediately missed Loaisiga as they blew a three-run lead in the seventh inning of an 8-7 loss Sunday afternoon.
Loaisiga, after pitching 1 ¹/₃ innings Friday night against the Orioles and giving up a home run, came in Saturday morning feeling “a little sore,” according to Boone. The Yankees sent him for an MRI that revealed the strain and he later received a cortisone shot.
Loaisiga also missed three months in 2019 with a right shoulder strain.
The 26-year-old has thrown 68 innings this season — the most he has thrown since recording 68 ²/₃ in his first year as a pro in 2013 — recording a 2.25 ERA with five saves and 18 holds. He had provided a steady late-inning option in a season in which Aroldis Chapman has often struggled and Zack Britton has had three IL stints of his own and is now done for the season, needing elbow surgery.
“It’s been a challenge 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 him back for the stretch drive,” Boone said.
Sunday marked the Yankees’ 78th game this season decided by two runs or fewer. It has placed a heavy workload on the bullpen and it showed on Sunday with Loaisiga out and Chapman and Clay Holmes unavailable.
Albert Abreu, who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Loaisiga’s roster spot, gave up two runs over 1 ²/₃ innings. And Andrew Heaney, pressed into a high-leverage spot, was charged with four runs in a third of an inning.
“It’s definitely tough losing [Loaisiga],” catcher Gary Sanchez said. “We don’t know how long he’s going to be out. … At the same time, I feel like we have a really good bullpen. I have a lot of confidence in the guys in that bullpen. I know they’re going to be able to do their job.”