Yankees could get tremendous value from 5th starter

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees

The Yankees opened the 2024 regular season 4–0, sweeping the Houston Astros in Texas. On Monday, they will travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks, featuring Luis Gil on the mound against Ryne Nelson.

Gil had an impressive spring training performance, winning the fifth spot in the rotation over Will Warren and cementing his place with Gerrit Cole, who is still rehabilitating from nerve inflammation in his throwing elbow.

The 25-year-old showed exciting promise back in 2021 when he tossed 29.1 innings, including a 3.07 ERA with 11.66 strikeouts per nine. His solid velocity and pitch movement were all reasons to give the Yankees hope that he could be a front-line starter down the line. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery struck and saw his development trend in the wrong direction.

The Yankees Are Finally Getting a Healthy Luis Gil Back

Over the past few seasons, Gil has been diligently working his way back, throwing only four innings last season with Low-A Tampa in a rehab assignment. However, the Yankees have been pleasantly surprised to see how far he’s come and how his preparation is leading into the regular season.

“I think it put him back on the radar in the short term, like, ‘OK, he’s further along and more ready than certainly maybe even I thought,’ ” Boone said. “So that definitely got our attention, as well as how he’s looked leading up to that. Excited about where he was health-wise, but didn’t necessarily expect him to be this far along just from a polish standpoint. He’s done a great job with his secondary stuff, his fastball continues to be terrific and he seems really focused and in a good place. Feel like he’s the guy that’s earned it.”

Gil tossed 15.2 innings in spring training, posting an impressive 2.87 ERA, 13.21 strikeouts per nine, a 90.9% left-on-base rate, and a 29% ground ball rate. His headline performance came against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 11, when he struck out eight batters over just 3.2 innings, giving the Yankees everything they needed to see to justify his promotion.

“Feel like the way Luis has thrown the ball, really from the jump, he’s certainly earned that with how he’s performed,” Boone said earlier last week. “Continue to be really excited about what he can be as a starting pitcher.”

Riding a Red-Hot Offense

With the Yankees on a four-game win streak and riding Juan Soto’s performances to victory over the rival Astros, the Diamondbacks are no pushover, and Gil will certainly have his work cut out for him. Arizona is 3-1 after a successful opening series against the Colorado Rockies. After all, Arizona did make it to the World Series in 2023 and has a more than competent squad.

However, if Gil can roll over his successful spring into the regular season, there’s no doubt he can put together a strong performance that gives his offense plenty of slack to work with.

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