In recent years, Chad Green has been a fireman coming out of the Yankees bullpen. Lately, he’s poured gasoline onto the fire.
The usually steady right-hander is in the midst of a dismal streak, having allowed home runs in each of his last three outings and runs in four consecutive appearances. The Yankees, however, bailed Green out by rallying for two runs and a 4-3 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday night.
Green’s recent woes are clearly cause for concern, especially with Jonathan Loaisiga on the injured list and Zack Britton out for the season. Against the Orioles, he allowed a two-out, go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth to Austin Hays after Gleyber Torres’ brain cramp on a potential double-play ball off the bat of Cedric Mullins extended the inning. That came three nights after Francisco Lindor belted the game-winning homer off Green. Overall, he has allowed four home runs over his last 8 ¹/₃ innings, as his ERA has shot up to 3.46 from 2.96, and has given up 14 homers overall this year, a career-worst. The only reliever to allow more this season is Adam Plutko of the Orioles.
“He’s going to continue to be an option,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I feel like he’s actually throwing the ball pretty well. The long ball has gotten him a few times here. Credit Hays, got on a pitch up above the strike zone. But stuff-wise, I think ‘Greenie’ is throwing the ball well.”
His fastball — Green’s calling card — has gotten him in trouble. Hays crushed an 0-2 fastball up in the zone for his 20th homer of the year on Wednesday for Green’s sixth blown save of the season. Lindor also hit a fastball out, and the night before, Mets catcher James McCann took Green’s heater deep. All three homers gave the opposition the lead in the seventh inning or later.
There is a lot of mileage on Green’s arm, Boone acknowledged. He’s now thrown 75 ¹/₃ innings — the most by any reliever in baseball — and will soon set a career-high, passing the 75 ²/₃ he threw in 2018. Boone talked about wanting to get him multiple days off more frequently, as he had between the finale of the Mets series and this outing, while noting the importance of every game this time of year. Green, Boone repeatedly said, isn’t going to be used in less pressurized situations despite his recent struggles.
“Obviously, he’s been leaned on a lot, probably even a little unfairly and there’s some of that,” Boone said. “We’ll try to get him days here when we can to keep him fresh. But he’s going to be a guy we go to in big spots moving forward and he’s going to deliver.”