Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The New York Yankees have another ace in the hole with 26-year-old Luis Cessa.
Over the past three seasons, the New York Yankees have entertained one joke in particular. The punch line? Luis Cessa.
A regular on the Scranton Shuttle, Luis Cessa has logged thousands of miles to the Bronx in three years only to disappoint upwards of 40,000 spectators. With an overall 5-11 record, the words “ace” and “Cessa” didn’t even belong in the same sentence, let alone the same stratosphere.
Now, the tables have turned. With no options left, Luis Cessa either has to show up or get out. And this spring, he’s shown up.
With his latest test on Tuesday afternoon in Tampa, FL, Cessa has appeared in five games, including three starts. In 17 innings of work, Cessa has given up just one run and struck out 18 while walking just one batter.
In short terms, Luis Cessa has looked like an absolute ace since arriving in Tampa this spring. He has transformed from the player who fans couldn’t wait to run out of the Bronx to a pitcher who is showcasing high-caliber stuff and fanning opponents left and right.
What a glorious transformation he has made, much to the chagrin of most Yankees fans.
While it has been a small sample size, it is far uncharacteristic for spring training Cessa to be this dominant. In his previous three springs, he has combined for a 5.51 ERA. And yet he was still the first call to come up from Scranton for a spot start or extra arm in the ‘pen.
The question is, “Are we seeing a Luis Cessa who is just going to falter under the spotlight in the Bronx or are we seeing a new and improved Cessa who will steal that fifth starter spot?”
So far this spring we’ve seen Cessa be more confident in his pitches and in attacking the zone. Each time he takes the mound, he’s pounding the zone instead of attempting to nibble around the corners. And it’s paying off immensely with swings and misses from his opponents.
Perhaps his most impressive pitch this spring training has been his slider. That slider has had hitters off balance all spring long and ended up being his primary pitch to finish off batters.
Luis Cessa has looked great this #SpringTraining and today wasn't any different. In 4 inning pitched he only gave up 2 hits with no earned runs allowed. #NYY #Yankees #PinstripePride pic.twitter.com/R5XpXziucw
— 🇮🇹 ⚾️ Dominick Ruocco ⚾️ 🇮🇹 (@Dominick079) March 19, 2019
Of his 77 pitches in Tuesday’s outing, Cessa threw 55, or 71 percent of his pitches, for strikes, according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler. In his career, Cessa throws strikes at right around a 43 percent clip, according to Brooksbaseball.net.
That’s a hugely positive sign moving forward for Cessa. Plus, his demeanor on the mound is completely different from his previous seasons. He’s entered 2019 with a more relaxed approach, which has become fairly obvious when you watch him work quickly from the stretch.
With Jonathan Loaisiga and Domingo German entering spring training as the top candidates, Cessa has come in and swept everyone off their feet. Even though his previous experiences in the majors have been less than stellar, it’s hard to ignore this dominant spring and changed presence on the mound.
Fourth time’s the charm? For Luis Cessa, he has no other options. And it seems like that is more than enough motivation for him to work on improving his game and throwing strikes.
It’s paid off for him so far, but is this the Cessa we’ll see during the regular season? Or is this just a fluke? With the renewed approach and impressive results so far, it seems like this is the Luis Cessa who’s here to stay.
Could he be the second coming of Jake Arrieta? Time will tell but the 26-year-old has proved a lot of critics wrong so far this spring. He’ll be ready to do it come Opening Day as well in pinstripes.