Reliable Green earning bigger outs for Yanks

June 22nd, 2017

NEW YORK -- Entering this season, the Yankees envisioned the back end of their bullpen being anchored by and closer , with working the seventh inning.

But with Clippard's recent struggles and reliever on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, the Yankees might increasingly do what they did in Wednesday night's 8-4 win over the Angels: Insert in more high-leverage situations ahead of Betances and Chapman.

Manager Joe Girardi said that, had the Yankees not scored five insurance runs between the sixth and seventh innings on Wednesday, he would have asked Betances to pitch the seventh and likely the eighth as well. Working in the sixth and seventh, Green recorded four outs, allowing just a walk and striking out two, while Betances worked a clean eighth with a six-run lead.

"He was going out," Girardi said of Betances. "I don't know how much I would've gotten out of him, but he was going to go out and start the seventh."

With Chapman off the DL and back in the closer role, Girardi now has the flexibility to use Betances more freely as a two-inning setup man, if needed.

Before Wednesday, Betances had thrown just 4 1/3 innings in June while acting as the closer in Chapman's absence. Girardi said it was difficult to figure out when to use the 6-foot-8 right-hander when he was limited mostly to save situations.

Betances has a 0.40 ERA in 22 2/3 innings this season, best among qualifying MLB relievers.

"I'm just trying to stay as sharp as I can, working hard in practice," Betances said. "I got a chance to throw a bullpen [Tuesday]. I was ready for two innings today, but Chad Green did an unbelievable job."

Girardi said he's open to the idea of using Green more often in the sixth and seventh innings of tight games, but he'd have to see how the right-hander responds physically to the larger role, given his limited bullpen work in the Major Leagues.

Green has never pitched on consecutive days in the Major Leagues, but he's done well thus far out of the bullpen. Including his one start, Green has a 0.77 WHIP, which ranks fourth in the American League among pitchers with at least 20 innings.

"He's got a fastball that plays up, that's at 97 [mph] ," said catcher of Green. "Playing up from 97 is hard [to hit]. He throws three different pitches. He's got a slider, cutter and he just goes after people with heaters. It's fun to catch."

Regarding pitching in more high-leverage situations, Green said: "I'm definitely hoping to do that in the future."