Upon the return of Carlos Rodon and Domingo German to the New York Yankees, there may be a general plan to transition Clarke Schmidt back into a bullpen role.
Schmidt’s performance in the 2023 season has been quite uneven, reflected by his 5.58 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.
Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, Schmidt had a 6.00 ERA, 10.80 strikeouts per nine innings, a 62.7% left-on-base rate, and a 44.8% ground ball rate over 45 innings. Walking 3.20 batters per nine innings and yielding a 15.7% HR/FB ratio clearly demonstrates a lack of consistency and an inability to shine as a starting pitcher.
In truth, Schmidt possesses remarkable skills and an impressive pitch variety, but his unsuccessful adaptation to the rotation role has periodically undermined the Yankees.
Schmidt’s repertoire includes a sweeper, sinker, cutter, and curveball. His sweeping slider, his best pitch, yields a .220 batting average against with a 29.5% whiff rate.
One could contend that his knuckle curve is slightly superior, even though it’s used 10% less frequently at a rate of 19.2%. His curveball results in a .194 batting average with a 33.3% whiff rate and possesses 111% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher’s curveball.
Schmidt’s fastball efficiency has been poor:
Schmidt’s sinker has been his Achilles’ heel, generating a .393 batting average with merely an 8.3% whiff rate. He incorporated a cutter during the last off-season, which has a .371 batting average. While it boasts a 28.6% whiff rate, opponents are taking advantage of it with a hefty .800 SLG percentage.
Nevertheless, Schmidt has managed to string together two solid performances, allowing only three earned runs in his latest 10 innings on the mound.
The Yankees have figured out how to use Clarke Schmidt:
The Bombers have now determined the best strategy is to relieve him in the 5th inning, which has yielded significantly more effective results. He conceded five hits, and just one earned run to the Orioles on Thursday night.
Schmidt ranks in the 94th percentile for curveball spin and the 97th percentile for fastball spin. His location can sometimes falter, but he consistently demonstrates commendable velocity and spin rates. In Thursday’s game against the Orioles, he heavily depended on his cutter, throwing it 36 times, more than any other pitch. His fastball reached a maximum of 95.1 mph, and he delivered 59 of his 97 pitches in the strike zone, resulting in six strikes outside of it.
In essence, Schmidt performs at his best when he’s assertive and confident. However, much like Nestor Cortés this season, his performance declines when facing the batting order for the third time.
The Yankees seem to have finally discovered the optimal way to utilize Schmidt’s skills, but he might still be relegated to the bullpen following the return of Rodon and German. Still, it is heartening to witness the 27-year-old stringing together several commendable performances.