Yankees: Michael King made some adjustments and is now a breakout candidate

New York Yankees, Michael King
Sep 4, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Michael King (73) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The time to identify bold breakout candidates for the 2021 season is probably now, before spring training begins. News sites and blogs make this exercise every year, including the league’s official site, MLB.com. In its latest article, the circuit’s writers broke down a player in each team poised to have an incredible 2021 season. For the New York Yankees, Bryan Hoch listed a surprising candidate.

To this day, Michael King’s upside was thought to be fairly low. However, Hoch seems to think that he is a candidate to break out next season. In 2020, he didn’t have a very good campaign, pitching 26.2 innings of a 7.76 ERA (5.14 FIP) with a 21.5 K% and a 9.1 BB%.

The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher may have the opportunity of his life with the Yankees in 2021. The team doesn’t have too many options after Gerrit Cole, Domingo German, Deivi García, and Jordan Montgomery, and if spring training goes well and the Bombers don’t bring any reinforcements, he could even make the rotation in an unlikely, but possible scenario.

The Yankees worked with King to refine the axis of his changeup

Hoch wrote that King “benefited from his time at the Yankees’ alternate training site this past summer, where he huddled with pitching coordinator Sam Briend to refine the axis of his changeup, giving it a different profile than his fastball. The right-hander saw results in the AL Division Series, retiring all six Rays he faced in a Game 3 relief appearance.”

If he can somehow maintain the gains he made in the Yankees’ alternate training site, it’s fair to wonder if the Yankees managed to increase King’s upside and potential.

Per Hoch, “King has also changed his slider into a curveball, tinkering with improvements that he believes will help him secure a rotation spot in 2021.”

Could it be that the Yankees have unearthed a pitching gem from the internal options they had? The team needs quality innings badly, and by the look of things, they won’t be spending too much money in payroll for 2021. The moment, for King, is now.