Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Yankees breakout starter Clarke Schmidt lands on IL; how can New York fill its rotation spot?

By Vaseline May30,2024
Yankees breakout starter Clarke Schmidt lands on IL;  how can New York fill its rotation spot?

By ERA and WAR the New York Yankees have had one of the best rotations in baseball this season even though reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole has yet to throw a pitch. Cole suffered a nerve infection in his elbow during spring training and is working on his way back. Without him, the rotation was as good as the Yankees could have hoped.

New York’s depth will now be tested. Righty Clarke Schmidt was placed on the 15-day injured list Thursday with a right lat, the Yankees announced. Schmidt last pitched on Sunday and said afterward that it was “one of those outings where you don’t feel your best,” according to the New York Post. Manager Aaron Boone said Schmidt will not pitch for the next four to six weeks, according to Newsday.

Schmidt, 28, was enjoying a breakout season prior to the injury. He had thrown 60 2/3 innings in his 11 starts with a 2.52 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Opponents had a .224/.304/.356 batting line against him and Schmidt has one of the largest year-over-year strikeout increases in baseball. The first round of 2017 started to deliver on its promise.

The Baseball Prospectus Recovery Dashboard says lat strains can sideline pitchers for 15 days to the entire season, which isn’t particularly helpful. Former Yankee Luis Severino missed about two months with lat strains in 2022 and 2023. The four-to-six-week shutdown suggests Schmidt, who set a new career high with 66 innings in 2023, will miss at least two months.

Cole throws to hitters as part of his rehab work, although he has not yet begun an official minor league rehab assignment. That could happen as early as next week. Either way, it will be several weeks before he rejoins the rotation. New York’s rotation depth chart currently looks like this:

  1. RHP Gerrit Cole (out with nerve inflammation in his elbow)
  2. RHP Luis Gil
  3. LHP Carlos Rodón
  4. RHP Marcus Stroman
  5. LHP Nestor Cortés
  6. RHP Clarke Schmidt (off with lat tension)
  7. RHP Cody Poteet (on Triple-A injured list)
  8. RHP Clayton Beeter (on Triple-A injured list)
  9. RHP Will Warren
  10. RHP Yoendrys Gomez

Cortes, Gil, Rodón, Schmidt and Stroman have together started 56 of the 57 games. Poteet had a lost starting spot in April and that was due to a rain shower and a doubleheader, not because anyone got hurt or had to be replaced for performance reasons. Even with Cole out, the Yankees had very good pitcher health before Schmidt’s injury.

Schmidt was scheduled to start Saturday and Warren, New York’s top healthy pitching prospect, is perfectly in line to make that start. He’s had a terrible run in Triple-A lately — 31 runs in his last four starts and 17 innings — though the Yankees don’t have many other options. Gómez was sent down last Monday and cannot be recalled until he spends 15 days in the minors.

Cole is still several weeks away — he will require multiple minor league rehab starts — and the Yankees will have to figure out how to bridge the gap between Schmidt’s injury and Cole’s return. Their starting rotation has been excellent overall this season, but their depth will now be tested.

The Yankees enter Thursday’s action atop the AL East with a 38-19 record. They allow just 3.14 runs per game, by far the fewest in baseball. The Kansas City Royals are a distant second with 3.42 runs allowed per game.

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