Yankees trying to transition bullpen arm to starting rotation

mlb: new york yankees at miami marlins, michael king
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Michael King has emerged as a cornerstone in the New York Yankees‘ pitching lineup this season, boasting an impressive 3.13 ERA across 69 innings and striking out 82 batters. The intriguing number to focus on here is his starts: King has pitched in 42 games this season, with two of them as a starter.

Facing the Detroit Tigers and Future Prospects

King is set to take the mound once again on Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers. Both of his starting assignments have come this August, in line with what manager Aaron Boone stated earlier on the 12th—that King would be transitioning into a role that involves a starter’s workload.

The Late-2023 Experiment

The Yankees are evaluating whether King can step into a starting role next year. The success of this late 2023 experiment will largely hinge on his performance in the remaining games. Though he has yet to pitch past the fourth inning in any start, he will have the remainder of the season to extend his pitching limits.

Evaluating for the Yankees’ 2024 Season

With playoff aspirations for 2023 seeming increasingly unlikely, the Yankees are already focusing on the 2024 season. The idea is to assess King’s suitability as a starter, specifically concerning his stamina to cover five or more innings consistently, his effectiveness through multiple lineup rotations, and his ability to maintain velocity deep into games.

King on Roster Flexibility

“I also look at it like roster flexibility,” King said Monday at Comerica Park to the New York Post. “If it gets to the point where we’re in spring training and we need a fifth starter, they know what they have in me, and they know, ‘Hey, King was great for the last five weeks of the season. We can give him an opportunity.’ Or, ‘We got five starters, and King was great in the bullpen, so we’re going to put him in the bullpen.’

King emphasized his desire to not only succeed but also to offer flexibility for the Yankees’ future roster decisions, including vying for a starting position next season.

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The Road Ahead: Filling the 2024 Rotation Spots

So far, four rotation spots for next year have been secured by Gerrit Cole, Néstor Cortés, Carlos Rodón, and Clarke Schmidt. King stands as a potential fifth starter while the organization patiently waits for young talents like Drew Thorpe, Richard Fitts, and Chase Hampton to develop.

The Ongoing Evaluation

The Yankees aren’t just testing the waters with King; they’re diving deep to explore his capabilities. If the experiment doesn’t pan out, King can always return to a bullpen role, where he has already proven to be a star asset.