Yankees make odd decision re-assigning budding relief pitcher to Triple-A

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Apr 10, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are currently on a nine-game winning streak, which suggests they have made all the right decisions over the past three series. However, after a come from behind victory against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon, manager Aaron Boone made an odd decision, re-assigning one of his budding relief pitchers to Triple-A.

Bullpen arm Clarke Schmidt was sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, despite hosting an impressive 1.23 ERA this season over 7.1 innings.

“It’s a real tough pill to swallow,’’ said Schmidt, who has performed really well this season. “I’m throwing well, doing my job and getting guys out. It’s just part of the game. It’s a business also. I hope to get back up here soon.”

Schmidt has earned 8.59 strikeouts per nine rate, 90.9% left on-base percentage, 61.1% ground ball rate, 3.66 SIERA, and 4.08 xFIP.

Schmidt has been an entirely different player this year after struggling with the Yankees over a small sample size in 2021. He dominated with Scranton, posting a 2.10 ERA, and he’s translated those numbers to the majors in 2022.

Looking at his velocity, he’s averaging 94.3 mph with his fastball, up nearly 2 mph from 2021. His sinker is also sitting at 94.6 mph. Schmidt actually has a fantastic repertoire of pitches at his disposal, including a fastball, sinker, change-up, slider, and cutter.

“I feel like a different player than in previous years,’’ Schmidt said. “I don’t think the moment was too big for me at all. … I’ll take what I did this month and roll with it.”

Clarke’s last performance came on April 20 to get the Detroit Tigers when he lasted 3.1 innings and struck out six batters. Since then, the Yankees haven’t utilized him, oddly, preferring to lean on Miguel Castro and Michael King. It is possible that Boone is playing a numbers game against specific batters, but Schmidt might have justified his worth early in the season.

While this might be a temporary setback for the young bullpen arm, the Yankees will undoubtedly call him back up when needed.