The Yankees might get an All-Star appearance from an unsuspecting starting pitcher

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

At the outset of spring training, many speculated that Gerrit Cole would be the most likely Yankees pitcher to secure an All-Star nod due to his consistent performance over the years. Though Nestor Cortes made a notable splash in 2022, Cole has remained a benchmark of reliability.

Schmidt Emerges as a Star For the Yankees

However, this season might see two Yankees starters vying for All-Star spots, with Clarke Schmidt emerging as a key contender. Schmidt has pitched 50.2 innings with a commendable 2.49 ERA, boasting 9.77 strikeouts per nine innings, an 85.5% left-on-base rate, and a 38% ground ball rate. He’s maintained control by limiting walks to 2.66 per nine innings and home runs to 0.89 per nine.

Against the robust Minnesota Twins lineup on Thursday, Schmidt was virtually untouchable, delivering eight innings of work, allowing just three hits, and striking out eight batters.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees, clarke schmidt
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Schmidt’s Evolving Pitch Arsenal

Last year, Schmidt often struggled to pitch beyond the 5th inning as teams began to anticipate his pitch selection. This season, he’s adeptly pinpointed the corners and utilized his full arsenal to dismantle opposing hitters. He ranks in the 94th percentile in pitching run value, highlighted by one of the best breaking balls in the league.

Schmidt’s repertoire includes a cutter, sweeper, sinker, and knuckle-curve, with increased usage of his cutter by 6% this year. Despite being the pitch against which hitters average .302, it boasts a 30% whiff rate and remains his primary strikeout tool, amassing 17 strikeouts.

His most effective pitches have been the sweeper, with hitters averaging .222, and the knuckle-curve, at a .185 batting average. His sinker is also formidable, holding hitters to a .235 average with a 28.6% put-away rate and delivering 23.2 inches of vertical movement. The knuckle-curve stands out, producing 74% more horizontal movement than average, with a significant 16 inches of break.

Interestingly, while Schmidt’s cutter has gained an additional 1 mph this season, his sinker has slightly decreased in velocity. This adjustment suggests a strategic shift to enhance specific pitches’ effectiveness by increasing power or focusing on spin rate improvements.

As Clarke Schmidt continues to excel, he’s not only proving his capability as a frontline starter but also making a strong case for his first All-Star selection. His performance against Minnesota epitomizes his potential and could significantly impact the Yankees, who initially saw him as a back-end rotation option at the beginning of the year.

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