At times, the 2021 New York Yankees have struggled with pitching depth. Right now is actually one of those moments, as Luis Severino and Corey Kluber remain rehabbing long-term injuries (but close to returning) and Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery recently tested positive for COVID-19.
As it turns out, the Yankees may be about to welcome back another pitcher who is on a rehab assignment. Clarke Schmidt, one of the teamâ€™s top prospects who has been out since February with an elbow injury, feels ready to return.
Of course, he is actually not, having just completed 2.2 innings of work yesterday for the Somerset Patriots, the Yankeesâ€™ Double-A affiliate. But the fact he made it through the outing healthy tells us that we might see him in pinstripes again this season, likely in September, if he is needed.
It was just his third rehab outing after missing months with a common flexor tendon strain in his right elbow, so the Yankees will play it safe with him. Even if he was fully healthy, itâ€™s not a given that he sees time in the Bronx this year, because he only has 6.1 innings of big league experience under his belt and he skipped Triple-A altogether last year in his way to the Yankees.
â€œStuff-wise, I feel great,â€ the top pitching prospect told reporters, according to NJ Advance Media. â€œI think I could easily go out and get big-league hitters out right now. â€¦ I know I can get those guys out right now.â€
Could the Yankees use him as a reliever?
On Thursday, he conceded one run while striking out four. He also allowed a couple of hits and walked a batter.
â€œI felt like I was throwing a lot of strikes,â€ Schmidt said. â€œI was landing breaking balls, landing changeups, landing sliders, landing curveballs. When Iâ€™m doing that, I feel thatâ€™s when Iâ€™m at my best. Two-seam had great action on it.â€
For what itâ€™s worth, Schmidt says he wouldnâ€™t have a problem coming back as a reliever for the Yankees this season.
â€œI would be completely comfortable doing that again this year,â€ he said. â€œObviously, Iâ€™m in a unique situation with my pitch count. Iâ€™m trying to build it up. Iâ€™m up to 50 pitches right now. … I would 100% feel comfortable coming into a relief role, however I could help the big-league club. I just want to get back up there.â€