Jonathan Loaisiga is one of the most significant breakout candidates for the 2020 season. With Dellin Betances leaving the Yankees, there is bound to be an extra spot in the bullpen. Even if Loaisiga doesn’t get the spot, injuries are almost guaranteed to occur, so he will almost definitely get a shot this year.
Loaisiga has the tools to be a fantastic pitcher. Last year, Loaisiga was in the 95th percentile for fastball velocity, 84th in fastball spin, and 89th in curveball spin. Loaisiga has had a command problem, which is the real reason for his struggles. If the goal is for him to be in the rotation in 2021, having him pitch out of the bullpen in 2020 would be great for his development. Another way he can improve is by throwing his curveball more. Last year, his curveball was a fantastic pitch, but he threw his fastball more than it. Last season, his curveball allowed a .125 xwOBA (his expected wOBA, this helps show that it wasn’t mistaken success), which is far better than his other pitches. Loaisiga threw his curveball the second most, but if he could drive his usage of his curveball up and throw it at least 300 times, the pitching staff could get a better understanding of how good it really is.
Another crucial thing for Loaisiga to do this year is to develop another reliable pitch. At the moment, his curveball is his only pitch that can be trusted to consistently shut down hitters. He should attempt to try and establish his fastball more. Last season, he allowed a .453 xwOBA off his fastball. He has the speed on the fastball, but the pitch lacks control. If he can work on his fastball throughout the next couple of seasons, fitting into the rotation in 2021 will be more attainable.
This season will be Loaisiga’s best chance to show the Yankees what he is fully capable of. They have many guys on the team that can start, and some of them may even be ready by the end of 2020. This season can make or break Loaisiga’s future with the Yankees; his future lies in his own hands.