The New York Yankees kept their promise to superstar slugger Aaron Judge after extending him on a nine-year, $362 million deal. General manager Brian Cashman continued to spend on free agent acquisitions, notably star pitcher Carlos Rodon, who spent the 2022 season with the San Francisco Giants.
Adding Rodon to an already stout starting rotation gives the Yankees plenty of firepower in 2023. However, Rodon pitched a career-high 178 innings in 2022, indicating the Bombers may need to incorporate load management into their strategy.
In addition, they have Luis Severino coming off his first year back from injury, and Nestor Cortés pitched over 100 innings for the first time in his career.
They will need to manage workloads across the board, which is where two starting pitchers coming to play, Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt. The latter of the two is expected to receive a much bigger role with his development coming to fruition.
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The Yankees should lean on Clarke Schmidt more in 2023:
At 26 years old, Schmidt featured a 3.12 ERA, 3.96 xFIP, and 8.74 strikeouts per nine with a 75% left-on-base rate across 57.2 innings. Schmidt also made eight appearances over 33 innings with Triple-A Scranton last season, but with only one minor league option left, he’s expected to settle in with the major league team moving forward.
Schmidt made three appearances during the postseason, pitching 2.1 innings and tallying an 11.57 ERA. He was batted around quite a bit during post-season play, but he’s capable of starting games instead of coming out of the bullpen, which is where the Yankees may look to utilize him to help mitigate fatigue for their primary five starters.
In fact, Schmidt can play an extremely valuable role, given the workload he’s capable of managing. At such a ripe age, Schmidt utilizes a solid sequence of pitches, including a slider, sinker, curveball, and 4-seam fastball. He saw a major increase in slider usage this past season with Matt Blake as the team’s pitching coach.
The numbers indicate that an increase in slider usage was exactly what the doctor ordered, considering Schmidt posted a .183 batting average, 41% whiff rate, and 26.2% put-away rate. That specific pitch curated 60% more horizontal movement, indicating a sweeping motion across the plate at 86.4 mph on average.
Schmidt did have some trouble with his sinker and 4-seam fastball, allowing batting averages above .300. His curveball was fantastic, though, producing a .068 batting average with a 24% whiff rate and 20.5% put-away rate. In fact, it generates 94% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher, showcasing his lethal breaking stuff.
According to his Steamer projections, he is expected to record a 3.75 ERA this upcoming season across 62 innings, but he may end up playing a far more valuable role alongside German, who is considered a league-average starter by most accounts.
Nonetheless, this is Schmidt’s chance to carve out a legitimate role for the future, and since they have control over him for the next four years, they can begin to lean into his talents to help supplement some deficiencies.