The Yankees may have a new star in the starting rotation

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In Gerrit Cole’s absence, the New York Yankees have relied heavily on other starters to compensate for the loss. Nestor Cortes and Carlos Rodon, both rebounding from injury-ridden 2023 seasons, have been called upon to elevate their performances.

Cortes has excelled on several occasions, showcasing his All-Star caliber form in his last three starts. Rodon’s results have been more mixed, but Luis Gil, a 25-year-old who has battled through multiple injuries, has been one of the team’s most consistent starters this season.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees
Mar 22, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil (81) throws a pitch against the New York Mets in the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees Have Something Special in Luis Gil

Gil made his MLB debut in 2021, impressing with a 3.07 ERA across 29.1 innings at the age of 23. Since then, he has undergone Tommy John surgery and overcome several other setbacks to finally secure a spot in the rotation.

This year, Gil has pitched 19.2 innings with a commendable 2.75 ERA and a 3.00 FIP. He has struck out an impressive 13.27 batters per nine innings, maintained a 73.1% left-on-base rate, and achieved a 44.4% ground ball rate. Despite walking 7.78 batters per nine innings, Gil has not allowed a home run this season, which is noteworthy.

Gil’s effectiveness hinges on his control; his fastball, when on target, makes him virtually unhittable. However, his lack of control at times has allowed opposing teams to draw walks and reach base easily.

In Sunday’s outing, Gil displayed his best, striking out nine and allowing just two hits over 5.2 innings. The single run he allowed was unearned, positioning the Yankees well for a win.

“It’s a really good peek at how good he is when he’s filling up the strike zone,” manager Aaron Boone said.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Boone has witnessed Gil’s potential firsthand. His fastball, averaging 96.7 mph, may be slightly down from 2022, but it remains effective. Gil stands out statistically, ranking in the 99th percentile in expected batting average (xBA) at .105, with an expected ERA (xERA) of 2.17. He also ranks highly in strikeout rate, barrel rate, and hard-hit percentage.

Opposing hitters have a mere .108 average against his fastball and .059 against his breaking ball, though they have found more success against his slider, batting .300.

“When you play this game, you understand this is a game of adjustments,” Gil said through a translator. “I really enjoy that. I enjoy watching video of what I do and pick up on the little things that are not working correctly. … It allowed me to be more comfortable on the mound and more consistent.”

Gil has proven to be the Yankees’ most reliable starter, a surprising development given the team’s roster of high-profile veterans. With Cole still recovering and aiming for a return, the Yankees are confident in Gil’s ability to handle his starts and provide valuable innings, thereby giving the bullpen much-needed rest.

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