Notes: Loaisiga's strong start; Stanton off-day

April 4th, 2021

had just blown a save against Cleveland in the 2020 American League Wild Card Series when he heard some much-needed encouragement from a valued source.

, who has spent more than a decade in the Majors and has six All-Star appearances to his name, told the then-25-year-old, “It’s important to believe in your pitches, believe in the quality of your pitches and attack hitters.”

Gaining advice from a veteran of his caliber -- one of a handful of experienced, successful relievers in the Yankees’ bullpen -- has helped Loaisiga forge a deepened sense of confidence at the start of his fourth big league season.

Between Chapman (33), (33), Darren O’Day (38) and Justin Wilson (33), among others, Loaisiga has had a bevvy of relievers to listen to and learn from so far in his career.

“It’s important for me,” Loaisiga said through a translator Sunday morning. “Not only do I get to spend time with them in the bullpen, I get to spend time with them in the clubhouse, on the field, playing catch, and that allows me to ask questions and find bits of information that can be useful for me. Information that I can put into practice right away when I enter a game.”

Loaisiga is putting it all together in games so far, having appeared twice already for the Yankees this season. He has yet to allow a baserunner, let alone a run, and has four strikeouts in three innings. He also earned the win Saturday against the Blue Jays.

In 2020, Loaisiga deployed a fastball-heavy arsenal (67.3 percent of his pitches were either four-seamers or sinkers, per Baseball Savant). But his changeup was equally important, and he showed that again Saturday while fanning Cavan Biggio and Rowdy Tellez.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone praised Loaisiga’s strike-throwing, which was an issue at times earlier in his career. It was also an issue that night in Cleveland, when Loaisiga walked two and hit a batter in one-third of an inning.

“He’s really attacked the zone in a really good way this spring and so far in these first couple of games,” Boone said.

For now, Loaisiga has looked steady coming out of the bullpen. But he rose through the Minors as a starter (44 of his 45 appearances were starts). He said he’s “very comfortable” with his current role, but he’d be “really happy” to return to the rotation if the team needs him to.

Stanton’s day off

was left out of the Yankees’ lineup on Sunday, but Boone made sure to clarify that there’s nothing to read into regarding that decision.

“G’s good,” Boone said. “Just wanted to get a lefty [Brett Gardner] in there. This is probably the best day to do that, where I’m not probably going to play G five days in a row, [which] was kinda what I told him. I figured this was the best day to do that.”

In terms of not playing Stanton five days in a row, Boone mentioned that that’s only his strategy for the early stages of the season as players build back up to everyday game shape.

“I would expect him to be in there the next three days,” Boone said. “And then as we go out on the road trip, [I’ll] try to pick some spots here where I can get our guys that are obviously gonna be playing every day, try and strategically get them a day to continue to build them up properly.”

Latest on Britton

Boone said Britton (60-day IL, left elbow) is doing “really well” as he works back from his mid-March surgery, in which he had a bone chip and loose bodies removed from his elbow.

Britton is still too far away to have a rigid return date, though, and the next step is to establish a throwing program for him.

“He is scheduled to start playing catch as early as this week,” Boone said. “He’s got, I think, full range of motion back already, so the incision and the swelling and all that -- which is the biggest hurdle to clear initially -- is going really well for him.”