Yankees making a major pitching strategy change

yankees, michael king
May 2, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Michael King (34) has the ball tossed back to him after defeating the Cleveland Guardians 4-2 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees find themselves in a delicate situation, with their starting rotation in upheaval. The recent injury to Nestor Cortés, who is now sidelined with a left rotator cuff strain, has further muddled the plans.

A New Strategy Unfolds: Ian Hamilton’s Opening Act

On Friday night, the Yankees took a unique approach, letting Ian Hamilton open his second game in consecutive days. His initial appearance was impressive, but in his next game, he surrendered two earned runs in the second inning from three hits.

Subsequently, the responsibility was handed to Randy Vasquez, who gave up two earned runs over 3.2 innings but has otherwise been steady this year, barring some control issues.

Turning to Young Talent: The Yankees’ Only Option

The team’s predicament has now forced them to depend on young pitchers to fill significant gaps. On Saturday, it’s anticipated that Jhony Brito will take the mound following his recent call-up. He’s maintained a 5.02 ERA this season over 57.1 innings and achieved 41 strikeouts.

Opening Strategy Continues with Michael King

The Yankees’ management has declared that they’ll also employ an opener on Saturday, Michael King, before making way for Brito. King’s performance exhibits a stark contrast between a 9.26 ERA in the first inning and a 2.45 ERA in the second. The strategy of giving him an initial break appears sensible, potentially easing the pressure and allowing for a more confident start, assuming King delivers.

Veteran Bullpen’s Role and a Shift in Pitching Mentality

King’s statistics this season are noteworthy, boasting a 2.88 ERA, including 10.77 strikeouts per nine innings, an 80.3% left-on-base rate, and a 46.1% ground-ball rate over 59.1 innings. This reflects a significant alteration in the pitching philosophy, utilizing openers more often to counterbalance weak starting performances at the beginning of games.

An Attempt to Alleviate First-Inning Troubles with Young Pitchers

With young pitchers facing difficulties in the first inning, the Yankees seem to be exploring a strategy that has yielded favorable outcomes before. By introducing these methods, the team aims to mitigate early-inning concerns and foster a more solid and reliable pitching approach during this crucial period of the season.

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