Aaron Boone suggested he would not rush Jonathan Loaisiga, who was activated off the injured list Wednesday afternoon. There would not be immediate back-to-backs or multi-inning asks.
Instead, the Yankees manager merely requested that his most valuable bullpen member take care of George Springer, Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a tie game.
In his first appearance since Sept. 3, after which he was sidelined with a strained rotator cuff, Loaisiga had no issues with the top of the Blue Jays’ lineup in the Yankees’ 6-5 loss at Rogers Centre.
What has become one of baseball’s best bullpens added its flexible star who “looks as good as ever,” said his catcher, Kyle Higashioka.
Loaisiga’s fastball maxed out at 99.2 mph in the seventh inning, when he had no issues with Toronto’s young bats in what was a 5-5 game at that point.
“He mowed through them pretty easily,” Boone said after the Yankees fell to one game up of the Red Sox for the first wild-card position.
It took 12 pitches — seven of which were strikes — to get Springer looking at a strike three and Semien and Guerrero to ground out meekly to third.
It will take some stretching out for the righty to be ready to come in and nail down a couple frames at a time, but the first step was a positive one.
Toronto’s 1-2-3 hitters went 5-for-9 with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs when not facing Loaisiga, who said he was ready for the test even in his first appearance back and reported that his shoulder felt fine.
“It’s definitely expected,” the Nicaraguan said through interpreter Marlon Abreu. “Thank God I’ve had a really good season this year, and those have been situations I’ve been in.”
The Yankees’ bullpen had performed well without him, having posted a major league-best 0.87 ERA during their seven-game win streak. But Clay Holmes’ stumble in Wednesday’s eighth inning, when he allowed the go-ahead home run to Bo Bichette, halted the group’s momentum.
Still, it’s a unit that entering play owned the AL’s best ERA (2.95) since the trade deadline. Getting their bullpen ace back will help.
“Real efficient, stuff looked really crisp,” Boone said. “Good to get him out there and into a big spot. Not only stuff-wise really good, but command and sharpness [was] really good, too.”