For all the surprises the 2017 season had to offer, one of the more pleasant ones had to be the rise of Chad Green.
Once a starting pitcher, Chad Green was converted to a relief pitcher this season. It was, for technical reasons, his first full season. His repertoire of the four-seam fastball, cutter, and slider combine for a nasty usage of all three. While he did throw his fastball 69.4% of the time this past season, the slider made way with a 22.1% usage rate — the cutter came in at just 7.8% of the time.
Some contributing factors to Green’s remarkable season could be that he was able to change his approach from a guy preparing to go five, maybe six innings, to one who could use his best stuff for two or so. That allows him to throw harder, and riskier, for shorter amounts of time.
Green’s average velocity on his FB:
- 2016- 94.3 mph
- 2017- 95.8 mph
The fact that Green was able to focus in on his pitches more led to his posting a fantastic season. Green improved in every category possible, and put himself in the elite group of relief pitchers that baseball has to offer.
2016: (MLB: 45.2 IP/ 8 GS)
- 10.25 K/9 to a 2.96 BB/9, with a 2.36 HR/9
- 41.3% GB rate / 25.0% HR-FB rate
- .269 BAA & 1.40 WHIP
2017: (MLB: 69.0 IP/ 1 GS)
- 13.43 K/9 to a 2.22 BB/9, with a 0.52 HR/9
- 26.4% GB rate / 6.7% HR-FB rate
- .145 BAA & .74 WHIP
What that indicates is that Green’s pitches were better utilized when he was able to throw them at their maximum ability. Of course, naturally, with a smaller usage, there is a smaller room for error.
The biggest improvement for Green was his HR allowance. In 2016, over the 45.2 IP, he gave up 12 HR. In 2017, over 69.0 IP, he gave up a mere four. Green was able to strike out dramatically more batters, while lowering his GB rate from 41.3% in 2016 to 26.4% in 2017. Essentially speaking, Green just didn’t allow people to get on base.
In 2016, he faced 198 batters. He gave up 49 hits, walked 15 batters, and hit another. 55 batters allowed on base, leading to 26 earned runs. That equates to approximately a 28% allowance of runners on base.
In 2017, however, he faced 253 batters. He surrendered 34 hits, walking 17, and hitting two. 53 batters allowed on base, leading to 14 earned runs. That equals out to roughly 21% of runners on base.
Being only 26 years old, and the Yankees having him for the next four full seasons under their terms, it looks like the future is bright for Chad Green.
Green’s value was astounding this season. The ability to use him for multiple innings allowed the Yankees to use him for extended appearances, and they gave him the same rest as the other arms. What separates him from his teammate, David Robertson, is that Green (thanks to his SP past) was able to go multiple innings on command.
GREEN 2017 value & breakdown:
- Green appeared in 40 games, throwing 69.0 IP (1.7 IP per)
- His RAR (Runs Above Replacement) was 23.5
- 2.4 WAR
- BABIP Wins- 0.6
ROBERTSON 2017 value & breakdown:
- D-Rob appeared in 61 games (CWS/NYY) throwing 68.1 IP (1.1 IP per)
- His RAR was 18.5
- 1.9 WAR
- BABIP Wins- 0.8
While David Robertson is nominated for AL Reliever of the Year (along with Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles), Chad Green is seemingly receiving no love from the MLB.
Kimbrel has to be most deserving of the three, posting an amazing 32.1 RAR and a 3.3 WAR.
Giles, on the other hand, is the worst of the three, and he posted numbers worse than Green. (18.1 RAR with a 1.8 WAR)
Chad Green was the Yankees’ go-to, or so it seemed. Whenever they were in a jam, Green would be brought in. Initially used as a sixth starter, or the “fifth-inning guy,” Green established himself as a huge piece in their bullpen.
Back in December of 2015, when the Yankees sent Justin Wilson over to Detroit for a pair of prospects, the word around the MLB was that it was a rather lopsided trade, in the Tigers’ favor. Wilson came off of a great season for the Yankees, in which he posted a 3.10 ERA over 74 appearances. Despite this, Cashman stuck to his guns and reinforced the fact that the Yankees needed SP help, more than another elite closer. When the trade was completed, the Yankees received Detroit’s number 6 and 19 overall team prospects. (Green was 19.)
Chad Green may not be the most exciting player the Yankees have traded for, but he sure may be the best valued. With him being under team control for the next four seasons, and the fact that he is still young and working on his offspeed pitches, it opens the way for future improvements. Can Green be better next season? We all saw what happened with Luis Severino when he improved his secondary pitches.
In Severino’s second season (2016):
- 55.9% Fastball
- 9.9% Changeup
- 51.4% Fastball
- 13.5% Changeup
Although it’s not a drastic change, the fact that he was able to regain that command and control over his changeup made way for him to catch batters off guard more, and change the eye levels. Green’s spread is not nearly as spread out as Severino’s is, and being a relief pitcher, it doesn’t have to be. Green’s fastball is thrown, again, 69.4% of the time.
If he can work on his cut fastball a little bit more, the possibilities can expand for Green. The swings and misses out of the zone would be greater, and the contact percentages against lefties would go down, because he would jam them in on the hands. Having the luxury of playing alongside Robertson, who throws a mean cutter (inherited from Mariano Rivera), and being able to surround himself with the amazing ensemble of the bullpen crew the Yankees have put together bodes well for Chad Green.
During the months of September and October, Green posted a 0.74 ERA, allowing just one earned run (not counting the postseason). He faced 44 batters, and gave up just seven hits, against his 17 strikeouts. Green never gave up more than four earned runs in any month of the entire season, and surrendered seven runs in both the first- and second-half splits. It is clear that Green was focused from the moment he came out of the pen.
While he only pitched 2.1 IP in “high-leverage” situations (27.0 in “medium” and 39.2 in “low”), I wouldn’t let that sway his stats in a negative connotation. Look for that to change this upcoming season, especially with Betances’ mental struggles. If I were to speak blindly right now, Chad Green would be my seventh-inning guy, with Robo in the eighth, and Chapman in the ninth. There should be a dramatic change in terms of “high-leverage” innings pitched for Chad.
Needless to say, Chad Green is a rather remarkable story, being that he was considered an add-on in the trade that was headlined by Luis Cessa. When the trade initially happened, Green was said to be the guy that “bridged the gap” for Bryan Mitchell if he were to struggle.
Chad Green will look to build on his remarkable first full season in the “Pinstripe Pen of Doom,” and help guide New York to that AL pennant next year.