The New York Yankees must prioritize figuring out their starting infield for the 2023 season, sifting through Josh Donaldson, Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and others. However, they still have a big starting pitching decision to iron out as well, whether to start Domingo German or Clarke Schmidt in the absence of Frankie Montas.
Montas was initially projected to miss the first month of the regular season, but he has begun his pitching program and is starting to ramp up after dealing with a shoulder issue that ended his 2022 season prematurely.
At most, Montas should miss only four or five starts, but the Yankees will have to find a supplement for the time being, and both German and Schmidt profile well to fill in. German has more experience as a starter, so he has leverage in that regard, signing a one-year deal earlier this month to avoid arbitration.
At 30 years old, he pitched 72.1 innings last season, enjoying a 3.6 1 ERA, 7.22 strikeouts per nine, and a 40% ground ball rate. German is a good spot starter filling in as the No. 5 option if need be, but the Yankees are expecting to give Schmidt a far more prominent role this year at just 26 years old.
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Why the Yankees could end up rolling with Clarke Schmidt:
Schmidt enjoyed a 3.12 ERA and 8.74 strikeouts per nine across 57.2 innings last season. He made 29 appearances and started three games, posting a 75% left-on-base rate and 42.1% ground ball rate. His numbers have consistently gotten better over the past two years, indicating his growth.
In his pitch repertoire, Schmidt hosts a slider, sinker, curveball, and 4-seam fastball. He utilized his sinker on 37.9% of his pitches last season, recording a .183 batting average against with a 41% whiff rate and 26.2% put-away rate. His slider generated 60% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher, and his curveball had 94% more movement. He gets solid sweeping action on his breaking pitches and averages out about 95 mph with his fastball.
Despite Domingo having more experience in a starting role, I wouldn’t rule out Schmidt as their preferred option to fill in on the back end of the rotation. He has the stuff and a long-term future with the Yankees considering he only has 1.15 years of service time under his belt, whereas Domingo will become a free agent in 2025.
The question is, do the Yankees prefer to roll with experience or upside? Based on the way manager Aaron Boone has decided on these scenarios in the past, I imagine he will go with a more proven commodity in German, which makes sense, given his only value on the roster is to serve as a supplementary starting pitcher.