Yankees’ reserve starting pitcher making case to stick around

As they prepare to engage the Chicago White Sox in a three-game series starting on Tuesday, the New York Yankees will place reserve starter Clarke Schmidt on the mound, following his solid performance on their recent road trip.

Schmidt, who had a challenging start to the 2023 season, has been on an upward trajectory and now boasts a 5.01 ERA and a 3.79 xFIP. He has pitched 55.2 innings, achieving a 10.51 K/9 rate, a 66.8% left on-base rate, and a 45.4% ground ball rate.

Despite these improving stats, Schmidt’s fastball has been slightly ineffective. His sinker has permitted a .351 batting average against, while his cutter has allowed a .304 average. Nevertheless, there has been steady progress over his past three games, with only three earned runs conceded across 15.2 innings.

Schmidt seems to have found his rhythm and has been pitching with greater intensity and variation. His sweeper, yielding a .211 average against with a 29.3% whiff rate, has become his most reliable pitch. Traveling at an average speed of 86.5 mph, it has led to 20 strikeouts.

Clarke Schmidt’s performance has markedly improved for the Yankees:

In May, Schmidt exhibited much better control, with his sweeper leading to a .167 batting average and his cutter restricting the opposition to a .136 average. This indicates that he’s getting comfortable with his revitalized fastball.

With Carlos Rodon sidelined for an extended period and Luis Severino only just back in action, the Yankees needed Schmidt to transition from a bullpen role to a starting one.

At the beginning of the season, it seemed apparent that Schmidt was ill-prepared for such a role and was likely to be demoted back to the bullpen. Yet, he has made a compelling argument to retain a spot in the rotation, especially considering left-handed starter Nestor Cortés is bound for the injured list with a shoulder problem.

At 27, Schmidt has significant service time remaining on his contract with the Yankees, likely allowing him five more years before hitting free agency.

Considering his substantial improvement over his last three starts, it’s fair to say that manager Aaron Boone’s confidence in Schmidt has been restored, and he will continue to be a central player in the team’s strategy.

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be shocked if general manager Brian Cashman makes a move at the trade deadline to secure another starter, thereby providing additional cover for the rotation which is currently beset by injuries.