By Kevin Kernan
TAMPA — The Yankees have enough experiments going on, they don’t need to change Chad Green’s role. In any way.
Don’t mess with success. Leave him as the dominating bridge right-hander in the bullpen. Green owns a rising fastball that works wonders in this Launch Angle Era.
The great thing is Green has totally embraced his bullpen role. Sure, down the road, he would not mind going back to being a starter, but for now, the Yankees are at their best with Green in his lockdown role in the bullpen.
Green made his second start of the spring Sunday, firing two scoreless innings in a 9-1 loss to the Rays at Steinbrenner Field, striking out four.
This does not need to be turned into a Joba Chamberlain situation. Should he relieve or should he start? Let Green continue to work his magic in his specific bullpen role until he fully develops his changeup.
There’s a lot going on here at Yankees camp. There is the Great Aaron Boone Experiment. Can he dive from the broadcast booth to managing even though he has never managed before?
There is the Great Left Field Experiment.
That got off to a dreadful start Sunday as Giancarlo Stanton struggled mightily to even find the baseball in left field on a sun-splashed day with the bluest sky you could imagine.
It’s not easy to change outfield positions and going from right to left is a big adjustment.
The Yankees have enough spring training experiments going so leave Green in the bullpen, right where he belongs as the bridge man. Even after Stanton botched Jake Bauers’ fly to left to put runners on second and third with no out in the second, Green struck out the next two batters and got a pop-up to end the inning.
He turned it up a notch with runners in scoring position.
“I’m just not trying to do too much there,’’ Green said of his simple-yet-successful approach.
The moment has never been too big for him, and in the future, perhaps he will become a lights-out closer instead of a starter. That would be a switch.
Boone pretty much solidified Green’s bullpen future when he said after the game, “I think probably our preference is to eventually move him back [to the bullpen,] but we want to at least be in that position should something come up.”
The move back to the pen would be “pretty soon,” Boone said.
That would be the smart move.
Green’s numbers were off the charts last season as he went 5-0 over 39 relief appearances in his first real season as a reliever. In 67 relief innings, he posted a 1.61 ERA and struck out 100 batters. With two outs and runners in scoring position he held hitters to an .045 batting average. He still had enough left in the tank to throw 6 ¹/₃ innings against the Astros in the ALCS over three games and did not allow an earned run against that mighty Houston lineup while striking out seven.
Green, 26, is working on a changeup as well to get weak contact. “I just need to throw it more,’’ he said.
“For me, it’s two completely different mentalities,’’ Green said. “If I’m a starter I’m going to need to develop the changeup a lot more. In the bullpen it’s nice to have that third pitch, but it is not as important.’’
Green believes he could maintain the same kind of velocity as a starter as he does out of the bullpen.
“Everybody is hoping to start, but I’m comfortable with whatever role,’’ Green said. He said the key is to be confident as a reliever.
Too many players worry about tomorrow. Not Green. He’s not about to demand anything from the manager.
“This will all play itself out,’’ he said of the possibility of staying in the bullpen or going back to starter. He has a bounce-back arm that can fit any role. “I’ll find a way to get it done.’’
Right now, and perhaps even in the future, the bullpen is Chad Green’s perfect home.