The New York Yankees entered the 2023 season with what seemed like one of the most formidable starting rotations in the league. With star names like Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, first-time All-Star Nestor Cortés, and a revitalized Luis Severino, expectations were sky-high. Add to this the exciting comebacks of Frankie Montas and Domingo German, and you had a recipe for a dream team of hurlers. Unfortunately, reality didn’t quite match the pre-season optimism.
The Season of Struggles: When Reality Hit
Outside of Gerrit Cole, who’s eyeing the AL Cy Young Award with a sterling 2.79 ERA, the rest of the Yankees’ rotation has unraveled. Rodon has been a medical disaster, wrestling with injuries ranging from a forearm strain to chronic back issues and even a hamstring injury. Cortés hasn’t been spared either, struggling with a left rotator cuff injury. Severino, despite a promising 2022 season, has been a model of inconsistency this year.
To add insult to injury, German has battled alcohol abuse problems while Montas needs shoulder surgery, sidelining him for the entire 2023 campaign.
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Yankees’ Silver Linings: Promising Performances Amid the Chaos
Despite these setbacks, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Yankees. Clarke Schmidt has shown promise, and Michael King, a recent bullpen promotion, is turning heads and setting the stage for future Yankee rotations.
King, who underwent elbow surgery in 2022, has come back with a vengeance this year. Across 87.2 innings, he boasts a 2.77 ERA, 3.35 xFIP, and 11.09 strikeouts per nine innings, not to mention a 1.9 WAR, his highest in four MLB seasons.
Michael King: The Shining Beacon in a Dismal Season
King has been especially exceptional when coming out of the rotation. In just six starts, tallying 23.1 innings, he’s logged an extraordinary 1.93 ERA, 1.59 FIP, and a 33.7% strikeout rate coupled with an incredibly low 4.2% walk rate.
King’s Arsenal: An Elite Collection of Pitches
King’s pitching repertoire this season has been nothing short of elite. His four-seam fastball alone has held batters to a .221 average, boasting a 24.2% whiff rate and a 26.9% put-away rate. His sweeper has been equally impressive, with a 41.7% whiff rate and a 23.5% put-away rate. Most notably, his change-up has become a killer strikeout pitch, particularly against left-handed batters.
Known for his deceptive sequence of pitches, King’s arsenal darts and dives with impressive control and velocity, particularly his fastball, which tops out around 95 mph. His sweeper shows 24% more horizontal movement than average, and his change-up excels with 20% more horizontal movement, offering the Yankees a pitcher with immense upside.
Yankees’ Future Prospects: A Rotation Worth Waiting For?
Rumors are swirling that general manager Brian Cashman might be setting his sights on Yoshinobu Yamamoto from Japan. If that pans out, a potential rotation featuring Cole, Rodon, Yamamoto, Cortés, Schmidt, and King would certainly give Yankee fans something to cheer for.
No final thoughts here—just the anticipation of what could be a transformative off-season for a team desperately in need of reliable arms.