New York Yankees: Star bullpen arm Michael King provides great update after elbow surgery

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Michael King

Losing star bullpen and arm Michael King was one of the biggest roadblocks the New York Yankees have had to face this season. King was their best arm out of the bullpen, hosting a 2.29 ERA, 2.42 xFIP, 11.65 strikeouts per nine and a 76.9% left on base rate over 51 innings.

King suffered a fractured right elbow which knocked him out for the remainder of the 2022 season, but he’s expected to escape Tommy John surgery, meaning he will return far earlier during the 2023 season.

“From the MRIs that I was able to get, it looked like the ligament was intact and pretty healthy,” King said on Monday.

The Yankees enjoyed the best version of Michael King this season:

This was King’s most efficient year by a country mile after hosting a 3.55 ERA over 63.1 innings in 2021. The 27 year old relief pitcher isn’t out of the woods yet, as they continue to monitor his ligaments to determine if he’ll need a second surgery. Thankfully, the hope is it was simply a bone fracture, which requires a less intensive recovery process.

“I’m obviously hoping I don’t need Tommy John,” King said. “I [hope I] just have weak bones, I need some more calcium or something.”

Michael stated that he’s pushed through discomfort in the past, but this time around things were different.

“I knew our bullpen needed some help, and I also felt like I was pitching well, so I wanted to throw through whatever soreness I was feeling,” said King, who went down about two months after Chad Green required Tommy John surgery. “There are so many times where I’ll throw through something for a week or two, and it totally goes away and I’m great. And unfortunately, this wasn’t those times.” 

The Yankees looked to the trade market for bullpen support:

At the trade deadline, the Yankees acquired Lou Trivino from the Oakland Athletics and Scott Effross from the Chicago Cubs. These two moves were meant to help smooth over the loss of King, but you can’t replace a player that was performing at such a high level.

Moving forward, the Yankees will have to make some interesting decisions for the playoffs, especially in their bullpen. Luis Severino could end up becoming a key piece as a relief arm while Nestor Cortes gets the No. 3 spot in the starting rotation.

Healthwise, the team is headed in the right direction, preparing to gain back several players in mid September. However, they are struggling right now, having lost nine of their last 12 games.