Yankees’ Gerrit Cole hints at Frankie Montas’s replacement

clarke schmidt, yankees
Jun 2, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) follows through on a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have a tall task ahead of them, replacing Frankie Montas at the back end of the starting rotation. Montas pitched just below 40 innings last year for the Bombers after being acquired from the Oakland Athletics, but a shoulder injury shut him down prematurely, forcing him out for the entire postseason.

However, things haven’t started well this year, already been ruled out for the majority of the 2023 season, undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder.

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The Yankees have two pitchers ready to step forward:

With Montas all but ruled out for the bulk of the campaign, the Yankees will look to Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt as supplementary options. While German fits the bill to take over the No. 5 spot, given he has more starting experience, enjoying 72.1 innings last season, Schmidt should also have a fair opportunity.

German earned a 3.61 ERA last season, posting 7.22 strikeouts per nine, a 78.5% left-on-base rate, and a 40% ground ball rate. He’s an adequate pitcher who can get the job done, but ace Gerrit Cole suggested that Schmidt should be the guy to take over.

“Clarke Schmidt’s my dog and we’ve got some other (replacement options) that are great, too,” Cole said. “Domingo also seems to show up for us.”

Clearly, Cole’s message indicates that German is capable of stepping in if need be, but his resounding confidence in Schmidt shouldn’t go unnoticed. Last year, the 26-year-old took a big step forward, enjoying 57.2 innings at the professional level. He hosted a 3.12 ERA, 3.96 xFIP, 8.74 strikeouts per nine, 75% left-on-base rate, and 42.1% ground ball rate.

Schmidt hosts a slider, sinker, curveball, and 4-seam fastball combination. His slider generated a .183 batting average against last season, throwing it 38% of the time. His sinker produced a .311 batting average, averaging out at 95 mph. He gets tremendous break on his curveball, 94% more than the average pitcher regarding inches of horizontal movement. In addition, his slider generated 60% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher, suggesting he has fantastic metrics to pair with momentum.

Right now, I would bet my chips that German gets the first crack in the rotation since Schmidt is capable of offering more support out of the bullpen. However, if Domingo struggles to any degree, the Yankees may look to change things up and give Clarke a legitimate chance to cement himself.