Baby Bombers Pitchers #5: Jonathan Loaisiga
is one of the most perplexing pitchers in the Yankee system:
He has incredible stuff.
He shows glimmers of brilliance.
He strikes out a lot of people.
He’s 5 foot 11 and only 165 pounds.
He’s about as durable as a glass bubble.
First, the durability. Here are Loaisiga’s total innings pitched (at all levels) the last few years:
Next, the potential, which is huge. According to MLB’s Baseball Savant, Johnny’s fastball is in the 95th percentile in terms of velocity and in the 84th percentile in terms of spin rate. His curveball is in the 89th percentile in terms of spin rate. Loaisiga struck out 12.04 batters per nine in 24.7 innings in the majors in 2018 and 10.5 batters per 9 in 31.7 innings in 2019. He has incredible stuff.
But, while he has great stuff, Loaisiga has issues with control. Walks were a problem with 4.38 BB/9 in 2018 and 4.55 BB/9 in 2019 at the big league level. Still, at times Loaisiga seems to have good control given the 1.57 BB/9 walk rate in 34.3 innings at AA in 2018. So maybe this is just learning to trust his stuff in the big leagues.
Loaisiga had 15 appearances but only four starts in 2019. So maybe his future is in the bullpen where he only needs to pitch 60 innings a year. If he could do that consistently and regain the control he displayed in the minors, he has the stuff to be an elite level closer. We’ll see.
The biggest question for Johnny Lasagna is not whether he can pitch effectively in the majors, it’s whether he can stay healthy enough to pitch at all. There’s an outside chance that he wins the fifth starter job to start the season. It’s more likely that he starts the season in the bullpen. That’s assuming, of course, that he’s healthy enough to pitch to begin with.