We’re not even into the month of March, and the Yankees are already besieged by injuries to their pitching staff. This is creating a bit of problem for the Yanks, but also opportunities for several promising Yankees pitchers, including RHP Jonathan Loaisiga. But, should you consider him for your fantasy team this year? Let’s take a look.
Jonathan Loaisiga’s Career Path
It’s been a crazy career for the 25-year old right-hander already. Signed by the Giants in 2012, Loaisiga had a solid pro debut in 2013 (2.75 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 68.2 IP), but injuries kept him out in 2014 and 2015. San Francisco released him in May 2015, but the Yankees picked him up a year later after he hit the mid-90’s with his fastball during a workout. Loaisiga suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John in 2016, but after fully recovering from that, he flew threw the Minors. Between 2017 and 2018, the Nicaraguan native threw just 77.2 IP in the Minors across three levels (SS-A, A+, AA) before receiving his first call to the Majors.
Loaisiga in 2019
After making nine appearances (four starts) in 2018, the 25-year old made 15 appearances (31.2 IP-four starts) in 2019, with 11 of those coming after the All-Star break. Loaisiga last season recorded an ERA of 4.55 last season, as well as a 1.48 WHIP and 4.95 FIP. Those latter two numbers were a bit high last season, and that can be attributed to the number of walks Loaisiga (16 BB, 4.62 BB/9) had last season with the Yankees. Loaisiga hasn’t had the best control in the Majors, which is a bit surprising given from his past performances in the Minors. The 25-year old has a career MiLB BB/9 rate of 1.68, so considering the small sample size he’s had with the Yankees, take his past walk numbers in the Majors with a grain of salt.
Loaisiga has three main pitches, a fastball, curveball and change, and all have received high marks from scouts. Loaisiga has one of the harder fastballs in the game, as the mean velocity on his four-seam last season was 96.8 MPH (95th percentile via Baseball Savant). It also has one of the higher spin rates in the games, as the 2422 RPM average spin rate he had on it last season was in the 84th percentile (via Baseball Savant). Batters whiffed on his four-seamer at a decent rate (27.8%) last season, but the problems came when hitters made contact on it. Opposing batters hit .354 off the fastball in 2019 and slugged .729 off the pitch.
As for his other offerings, Loaisiga’s curveball was quite solid in 2019. Batters only hit .125 off the breaking ball, which sits in the low to mid-80’s, and 16 of Loaisiga’s 37 strikeouts were off the curve. The pitch was a fantastic weapon against right-handed hitters, as he did a nice job when he used it last season to put the pitch down and away from them. Opposing batters on the right side only hit .042 off of Loaisiga’s curveball.
Loaisiga’s change has also received strong marks, but the offering wasn’t a blow-away pitch last season. The change for the 25-year old did generate whiffs (43.6 Whiff% rate in 2019), but batters did hit .375 off the pitch in 2019, and left-handed hitters hit .417 off of it. However, given the small amount of times he used it last season (76-12.9%), take those numbers for what they are.
Loaisiga Entering 2020
Entering the calendar year, it didn’t seem like there was a clear opportunity available for Loaisiga in the Yankees’ rotation. Fast forward to today, and things look a little bit different. Left-handed pitcher James Paxton needed back surgery this month, and manager Aaron Boone hopes to have the lefty back sometime in May. And then there’s Luis Severino, whose forearm problems are quite concerning to the Yankees. Those two injuries have opened up a path in the rotation for Loaisiga. However, he will have to compete for a rotation spot along with several other young Yankees pitchers, including Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery and Michael King.
So, does Loaisiga have a chance to crack a spot? I’d say there’s a good chance, as the 25-year old has really good stuff, and does have some, but not a lot of starting experience. Loaisiga will ultimately need to prove this spring that he can lock down a rotation spot, but a spot is there to be had.
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Fantasy Outlook Entering 2020
Loasigia’s certainly worth keeping an eye, but proceed with caution when considering adding the righty to your team. The 25-year old first needs to win a spot in the rotation. If he does, then the question shifts to how long he can hold on to it. Even if Severino is out for a long period of time, Paxton should return sometime in May or June. Domingo German, who’s serving a suspension for domestic violence, is eligible to come off the restricted list on June 5, and should he return and enter the Yanks’ rotation right away, he too could also complicate things for Loasiga. But if the Nicaraguan native can prove he’s ready for a spot in the Yankees’ rotation while Paxton, Severino and German are out, it may force the Bronx Bombers’ hand to keep him in the rotation.
Our recommendation as of now is to keep an eye on him throughout the spring. Loaisiga could be worth a pick if you’re looking a starter very late in the draft given his potential, but proceed with caution.
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