One of the Yankees‘ biggest shortcomings over the past few years has been player development. Having just traded away catcher Gary Sanchez, the team doesn’t have too many homegrown talents on the roster, but one young pitcher is starting to make a legitimate impact.
On Saturday night, with the Yankees holding onto a three-run lead against the Baltimore Orioles, field manager Aaron Boone called on Michael King to help close out the game.
Just two days prior, King worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam, thanks to a poor outing from Aroldis Chapman. King curated a strikeout and a line out to shortstop in just five pitches, which turned into a double play. Against a dangerous Toronto Blue Jays lineup, the Yankees couldn’t spare to give up any run production. King did a phenomenal job ending the game quickly without much resistance.
This was the first save King had picked up since last September with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during a rehab assignment.
“There’s a ton of adrenaline knowing you have to execute,” King said. “When the phone rang, I knew only righties were coming up next and it could be my name.”
On Saturday, King was called upon once again to help his team secure victory, which he did seamlessly, lasting 2.0 innings and striking out three batters over 42 pitches. On the year, King hosts a 1.17 ERA and has shown an interesting combination of pitch usage.
King is throwing his fastball at nearly 1 mph faster compared to 2021 but has mostly stopped using his slider, reallocating the usage toward his curveball, which he has thrown at 26% this year.
Clearly, the Yankees had a different plan for King and which pitches would best suit him to open the 2022 season. However, given he tossed 42 pitches on Saturday, it could suggest that he becomes a starter at some point down the line, maybe even filling in to supplement injuries this season.
It is extremely exciting to see a homegrown talent finally reaching their potential, and King features a cool and collective approach on the mound, flashing his glove routinely against the Orioles.
“He walks out there with a confidence and a fearlessness to which he pitches now,” Boone said Friday. “For all guys, it comes back to strike throwing, but when he’s on the attack and throwing strikes, he’s got plenty of weapons to do what he did [Thursday] night.”