Yankees’ depth starter scratched from tomorrow’s start with a stiff neck

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The New York Yankees continue to deal with injuries as another pitcher expected to contribute to the rotation is dealing with an issue. Luke Weaver, who the team signed to a one-year $2 million deal this past winter, is dealing with a stiff neck according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. The right-hander was having an up-and-down stint in Spring Training but was expected to serve as the team’s sixth starter in case of injury. In most cases, this would be a minor injury that you don’t monitor closely, but following the news that Gerrit Cole is undergoing an MRI on his elbow, it’s much bigger.

Weaver was expected to be the first man up in case of injury, but now that he’s scratched, it does call into question how healthy he’ll be with Opening Day a little over two weeks away. There’s no report of a shutdown or anything alarming, but his situation will be one to monitor as we get closer to the season kicking off in Houston.

Luke Weaver Dealing With Stiff Neck, Yankees Dealing With Another Pitching Injury

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Sep 22, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luke Weaver (30) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a disastrous 2023 campaign, it would appear on the surface that Luke Weaver would be another one of those arms looking for a Non-Roster Invite and MiLB deal. He posted a 6.40 ERA and 5.61 FIP across 123.2 innings for the Reds, Mariners, and Yankees, but it’s that tenure with the Bronx Bombers that raised his stock. Weaver tossed three strong starts, relying more on his cutter to get soft contact and strikeouts, and New York seemed to like what they saw in that small sample size to end the season as they would hand him an MLB deal in January.

He’s working on some tweaks, including a change to his leg kick as he’s completely removed it, which is abnormal for a starting pitcher, but seems to be helping him mechanically as his stuff is up a couple of ticks. The longer stride downhill should result in a slightly flatter angle on his four-seamer and some good vertical break, but if he’s dealing with a stiff neck in brings up two questions regarding the pitching staff. Weaver is expected to be the sixth starter, and if Gerrit Cole isn’t good for Opening Day, this means they’ll have to turn to their seventh starter on the depth chart.

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Mar 11, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Will Warren (98) throws a pitch during the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Will Warren would be the presumed seventh starter as he has a deep pitch mix and is a borderline top-100 prospect after climbing up to Triple-A with the Scranton Railriders. He posted a 3.61 ERA upon his promotion to the highest level that the Minor Leagues have to offer, and would be the natural choice for a starting role. There’s one hurdle, however, and it’s his 40-man status as he’s not currently on that roster, and that might cause the Yankees to hesitate about starting his service clock.

Other names they could look at on their 40-man roster include Clayton Beeter and Luis Gil, who tossed a combined 7.2 scoreless innings against a Philadelphia Phillies team running out their starters this afternoon. They’ve been brilliant in Spring Training, flashing strikeout stuff with improved shapes, but their lack of consistency with command could make them question marks in a starter’s role as well. There’s optimism that both have made the strides necessary to start, most notably in Luis Gil who is sporting an improved changeup in camp.

Whether this is a serious injury for Luke Weaver or not is yet to be seen, but for now he’s been scratched for their 1:05 PM game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.

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