Yankees’ 5th starter position battle takes turn

clarke schmidt, yankees
Feb 26, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are trying to figure out who the supplementary starter will be to replace Frankie Montas this season. Montas underwent shoulder surgery and should be out until August, but there’s no saying what his impact will be.

Even if the Yankees get Montas back toward the end of the year, expecting him to help out of the bullpen or take on a starting spot is optimistic. It would likely still take him weeks to get back into pitching shape, so maybe he can serve a relief role during the postseason, at the very least.

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Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt struggled second spring performance:

In his absence, Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German are competing for the open rotation spot, but Schmidt took a step in the wrong direction during Friday’s spring training performance against the Detroit Tigers.

After Gerrit Cole and Michael King pitched 5.0 innings combined, striking out eight batters and giving up just one hit, Schmidt had a tough time locking down Detroit. Across 1.2 innings, he gave up three hits, four earned runs, a walk, and struck out two batters. Following Schmidt’s five-strikeout performance in his first spring training outing, that certainly wasn’t what he had expected. Nonetheless, this is exactly what spring training is for, ironing out deficiencies and getting the bad performances out of the way.

I don’t think this showing takes anything away from Schmidt’s bid to be the No. 5 starter, but German now has a slight advantage coming off a great performance of his own. Across 2.1 innings, German struck out three batters, displaying solid velocity and control.

Given the fact that Schmidt is 27 years old and clearly has a long-term future with the Yankees, I wouldn’t be surprised if he started the season as a bullpen piece, utilizing German as a primary starter, given his experience. However, that doesn’t mean that Clarke won’t take over that role down the line, given he has only accumulated 1.14 years of service time and has the luxury of time on his side.

Ultimately, it will boil down to who presents the most value at each spot, and Schmidt has the ability to be a long relief arm out of the bullpen and can help close games if need be. German is more of a starting pitcher, so don’t be surprised if he maintains his job at the back of the rotation is Schmidt comes out of the bullpen to start the 2023 season.