Chad Green had pitched well out of the bullpen but his starts had not been as pretty. In four relief outings, Green had an ERA of 0.00, including a seven out save against the Giants.
In four starts, Green was 1-2 with an ERA of 7.50 and he received a no-decision in a game in which he failed to make it out of the fourth inning.
He had been constantly shuffled between the Bronx and Triple-A but now, in his fifth stint with the big club, got the call to start in the series opener against Toronto.
Green responded by pitching six shutout innings and striking out 11 against a potent Blue Jays offense in the Yankees 1-0 win on Monday night. The righty became the third rookie in Yankees history with 10 strikeouts and no walks in a game, joining Stan Bahnsen who did it in his Rookie of the Year season of 1968, and the recently traded Ivan Nova who did it in 2011.
“I think it says a couple of different things,” Joe Girardi said. “Obviously, the first thing, he’s got good stuff and his stuff has developed this year. But I think each time he took his demotion the right way and said, ‘Ok, this is what I need to work on and I’m gonna get better’. And he never got down on himself, never hung his head and just went to work. He works extremely hard.”
It was a big start for a young Yankee pitcher after Luis Severino gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings on Sunday. Severino was sent down to the minors before the fans who stayed until the end of the game could make it on the train.
The Yankees offense didn’t give the pitching staff much breathing room on Monday. New York scored one run off knuckleballer and former Cy Young winner RA Dickey but left 14 runners on base.
There was an advantage for Green as most of the hitters hadn’t seen him. Only Melvin Upton Jr. had faced Green, and had gone hitless in three at-bats. Three of Green’s starts have come in interleague games, so the pitcher is learning the batters as well. Green was able to change speeds and keep the Toronto hitters off balance. When the Blue Jays had second and third with one out in the fifth, the righty struck out Justin Smoak and Upton Jr. Then he struck out the side in the sixth, including Josh Donaldson swinging to end the frame.
Green had given up one run six innings in a win at San Diego, but this was his finest performance. It’s also a more developed pitcher than the manager had seen in March. “Since we’ve seen him in spring training his slider has improved drastically, his cutter has gotten better, his changeup, he’s worked on that, he’s worked on holding runners better, I mean just a lot of different things. We loved his arm. That’s why we traded for him.”
The arm was there and now he’s improving the rest of his game.
“He knew that in order to make the next step he had to do some things and he’s made adjustments,” Girardi said.