The New York Yankees are in the middle of a close game with a division rival on a chilly September evening in the Bronx. Their starter is about throw his 100th pitch of the evening. Joe Girardi picks up the phone to call bullpen coach Larry Rothschild. Rothschild picks up and nods. A lanky righty gets loose. A few days later, the Bombers are in a sun-filled afternoon contest. It’s only the fifth inning, yet Girardi is already looking at the pen, even though the Yankees have a comfortable lead. He calls on the same reliever.
Chad Green is the Yankees’ Best Reliever
So, how did Green go from a throw-in to one of Girardi’s most reliable options in a pennant race? It wasn’t always easy.
For two years, the South Carolina native toiled around in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system. He bounced around Michigan as he played for Erie and Lakeland, but never got a shot with the big league club. Green’s most complete season came in 2015, as a member of the Erie Seawolves. He turned in 148 innings, pitching to a solid 3.93 ERA over 27 starts.
But Green was never viewed as more than “solid,” which is why the Tigers were completely content with parting ways with him during that offseason.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had an extra resource of their own. With Andrew Miller in the fold for the foreseeable future, the Bombers deemed 2015 breakout star Justin Wilson superfluous. That year, Wilson held down the seventh inning for the Yankees, striking out 66 batters in 61 frames.
On December 11, the Yankees sent Wilson over to Detroit in exchange for Green and Luis Cessa, who had just finished a year of six-ERA ball for the Tigers’ Triple-A team.
Green spent only a month down in Scranton before being called up on May 16 to make his Major League debut as a starter. Unfortunately, his career started off on the wrong foot; Green allowed four runs to a dismal Arizona Diamondbacks team and hurled 99 pitches before being yanked after the fourth inning.
He was then sent back down and brought up to make his first relief appearance about a month later against the Tigers. Green fired a scoreless frame and was then sent back down again.
Green opened the 2017 season, fittingly, in the minor leagues. He saw younger teammate Jordan Montgomery snatch the final rotation spot. The Yankees were sending Green a message that they were fully committed to using him as a reliever.
Green was finally recalled on May 9. He opened that month by firing 9 1/3 consecutive scoreless frames. Green was in the Bronx to stay. He hasn’t been sent down since.
He started to receive long-overdue recognition after showing his worth in crunch time. Since August 19, Green has struck out 24 batters over 12 1/3 innings, allowing only one run.
He’s appeared in 35 games and has thrown at least one inning in 34 of those appearances, showing incredible durability and consistency. In all, he has a sparkling 1.96 ERA through 64 1/3 innings pitched. He’s been worth 2.5 wins to the Yankees this year. That’s the third most of any American League reliever.
The next time you see Green come out of the pen, don’t be surprised. You’re watching the best reliever on the Yankees.
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