The Yankees could be getting a key reinforcement much sooner than originally anticipated. As the offseason continues to fly by, Michael King appears to be well ahead of schedule in his recovery from the elbow injury he suffered last season. King was one of the best bullpen arms in all of baseball, and per Chirs Kirschner, he even pitched through pain to give the Yanks every ounce that he had in him. Now, it seems that he’ll be ready to go come Opening Day, as the much-anticipated start of baseball is roughly two months away.
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According to Brandon Kuty, King’s progress appears to be surpassing the initial prognosis for his recovery time, and Matt Blake hasn’t said otherwise:
King believes he’s on track to be back in the Yankees’ Opening Day bullpen come March 30. Blake didn’t dismiss the idea either. General manager Brian Cashman has said the club hopes King will be ready for Game 1.Via Brendan Kuty of The Athletic.
If Michael King is ready to rock come OD, that is a huge addition for this Yanks’ team, as his value to both the rotation and bullpen cannot be overstated. Though he won’t feature as a starter, nor should he, having King allows for the team to pull starters sooner should they get into trouble. He is able to throw two innings whenever called upon and should see his role fluctuate throughout the season to go with whatever the team needs. King isn’t the traditional middle reliever, nor long reliever, nor closer, for that matter. Instead, he can be utilized in all three positions and should be this upcoming season.
Michael King is one of the biggest storylines to follow this Spring for the Yankees:
With Spring Training just around the bend, monitoring King and seeing how the organization approaches his process will be interesting. We’ve already seen a video of him throwing bullpen sessions, and he looks like the Michael King that we all know and love. King’s stat line was filthy last year, as he posted career-bests in practically every single category. In 51.0 innings, he put up a 2.29 ERA paired with a 2.23 FIP. His stuff was disgusting, and the slurve he learned from Corey Kluber the year prior was constantly in usage as hitters struggled to get a good read on it. His 11.65 K/9 and 2.82 BB/9 were both the best he’s posted, and he was able to limit big issues and detrimental blows, as he tossed up a meek 0.53 HR/9 (only gave up 3 HR) and posted a 1.00 WHIP.
King’s presence in this bullpen will be huge for the team this season, and he helps round out what looks to be one of — if not the — best bullpens in baseball. With Holmes, Peralta, Kahnle, Marinaccio, Trivino, Loaisiga, Schmidt, and now King likely slotting into the fold, that bullpen is disgustingly good. The Yankees have prided themselves on the talent in the ‘pen in years’ past, but this year could be the most collectively dominant group they’ve had in ages. Michael King found himself still in the Top 10 for AL Reliever’s fWAR, despite missing the final two months of the season due to the injury he suffered at the expense of having to clean up Aroldis Chapman’s mess (enjoy that Kansas City).
There’s no task too great for our glorious King to make do of, and in 2023 he should, in theory, pick up right where he left off. To further reinstate his dominance, he posted a 47.0% GB%, which was yet another personal best, and his 28.2% FB% ranked 25th out of all relievers in the league. He simply lit up the board like a radio show switchboard, and his presence in the bullpen was clearly something that the team needed.
The 2023 season is quickly approaching, as pitchers and catchers report in just a few weeks. King should be amongst the rest of the pitchers at the complex in Tampa, and for all we know, he may even see a bit of time toward the back end of Spring Training. If King is healthy come Opening Day, that’s one more weapon that the team can rely on to start the year and come roaring out of the gates. Look for King to turn the page on a fantastic 2022 year and continue his story of excellence this season.