New York Yankees’ Mike King could be an important contributor in a short season

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, Michael King
Sep 27, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael King (73) throws a pitch in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

MLB and the players association are currently discussing a plan to play this year in Arizona, with no fans in the stands and respecting some social distancing rules whenever possible. Of course, talks are at a very early stage and there is no certainty that we are going to see the New York Yankees taking another shot at the World Series this year.

Given that we are in mid-April and that a season wouldn’t start until May or June at the earliest, we are talking about a shortened, compressed schedule. Playing 162 games in 2020 is probably unrealistic. MLB knows that, and the Yankees know that, as well.

That is why teams with more depth could benefit from the situation. If there are going to be doubleheaders and few rest days, then we are talking about expanded rosters, significantly larger than 26 spots. This would be done to help clubs cope with a tight schedule, respecting pitchers’ rest days and the workloads that players’ bodies have grown accustomed for years.

For the Yankees, that would be a blessing in disguise. And, it could mean increased opportunities for some of the young guns in the roster, particularly pitching prospects.

Especially since Domingo German would be suspended for most of the shortened season, the New York Yankees would need contributions from the likes of Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clarke Schmidt and Mike King.

The Yankees’ jack-of-all-trades

King is a right-handed pitcher who seems ready for the big leagues, whether it is as a starter or in the bullpen. He had a very good 2018, reaching Triple-A and having a 1.15 ERA in 39.0 frames there. However, he had a few injury bumps in 2019 that limited him to a single MLB appearance, in which he didn’t allow runs in two innings.

Near the end of last month, Brendan Kuty reported that the Yankees’ youngster could return to the majors if MLB expands rosters at the start of the season.

“King struggled through a rough spring and was consequently optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. However, he was in competition for a spot in the starting rotation throughout training camp, making him a feasible option to rejoin the big-league club if rosters expand as is widely expected. Should King be called back up, he would likely be used in a long-relief and emergency starter role,” per Kuty.

King’s biggest trait is his ability to induce ground balls. He had a 1.87 GB/FB ratio in 23.2 Triple-A innings in 2019, and a 1.56 mark in 2018 at the same level. King uses a sinker as his go-to pitch, and he kills the worms with it. To complement his arsenal, he has a usable slider/changeup combo. It won’t blow hitters away, but it may be enough to perform like a fourth or fifth starter down the road, which is good!

Let’s see what 2020 has in store for the Yankees’ righty. But first, let’s hope there is a season to watch.