Yankees have a serious position battle unfolding in the starting rotation

New York Yankees, clarke schmidt
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 still trying to figure out who the fifth starter will be after losing Frankie Montas for potentially the entire 2023 season. There is a slight glimmer of hope that Montas can return in August following shoulder surgery, but in the meantime, they need to fill his spot with an adequate replacement.

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The Yankees are monitoring the 5th rotation spot closely:

The clear-cut favorites are Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German, both of whom have started spring training on a high note. In Schmidt‘s first appearance this spring, he struck out five batters over just two innings of action. Coming off a successful 2022 campaign, the 27-year-old enjoyed a 3.12 ERA, 8.74 strikeouts per nine, and a 75% left-on-base rate over 57.2 innings — here’s a strong argument to make that Schmidt should get the starting job.

However, he’s also an extremely valuable bullpen piece, giving him a bit of versatility. On the other hand, German is more of a primary starting pitcher, and given his experience, he likely has a slight advantage.

Nonetheless, Schmidt has begun developing a cutter, which has already proven to be a successful addition to his pitch sequence.

“If I get behind in the count, especially to lefties, I feel a lot more comfortable that I don’t have to dot a pitch here and there, I can throw this over the heart of the plate and get some swing-and-miss”

-Clarke Schmidt on his cutter

Featuring solid velocity with his fastball, incorporating a cutter, and already having a slider, curveball, and change-up in his repertoire, Schmidt now has the makeup of a starting pitcher.

Domingo, on the other hand, put together an equally impressive first outing in spring training. Across 2.1 innings, he struck out three batters and allowed just one hit. The 30-year-old will be a free agent in 2025, so he’s still arbitration-eligible for the 2024 season, meaning the Yankees can retain him if they so desire. Last year, he enjoyed a 3.61 ERA across 72.1 innings as a starter in a supplementary role. He enjoyed a 78.5% left on-base rate, 40% ground ball rate, and 7.22 strikeouts per nine.

“When you take into consideration the experience that I’ve gained over the years, I guess that would put me as a favorite,” Germán said through the team’s interpreter. “I feel so good and healthy right now. I’m in my better spot as a pitcher, combining health and experience.”

Via NJ.com.

The Yankees are keen on seeing both pitchers compete for the open job, but neither will lie down and simply give it up. Ace Gerrit Cole has already advocated for Clarke publicly and also suggested that German is more than capable of filling in.

As a long-term asset, Schmitd fits the bill for the Yankees since he is only a free agent in five years. He’s only accumulated 1.1 years of service time, so they have him locked up for the foreseeable future.

For the time being, I believe that German will win the starting job, given how valuable Schmidt is out of the bullpen. As a long-term asset, though, I see Schmidt transitioning to a rotation spot at some point in the future, but that will ultimately be determined by how German performs and if he sticks with the team beyond the 2023 campaign.