Yankees will deploy exciting young as a starter due to improving changeup

luis gil, yankees

Luis Gil was one of the most exciting prospects in the Yankees‘ organization after 2021, where he displayed a two-pitch combination with his four-seamer and slider. He’d struggle mightily in 2022 and have his season end early due to a UCL tear, undergoing Tommy John Surgery that sidelined him for most of 2023. Now fully recovered from the elbow procedure, there’s plenty of buzz surrounding the young right-hander in camp, as the team will stretch him out as a starting pitcher according to Andy Martino of SNY.

The plan for Gil is to keep him stretched out as a starter while remaining open to trying him in a pen role…Yankees brass sees improvement in the changeup this spring. So does Austin Wells, who last caught Gil in spring training of 2021, and who faced him on Thursday.

– Andy Martino

With a potentially improved changeup, Luis Gil could be a strong depth option for the Yankees’ rotation, as he looks to impress in Spring Training and work his way back into the team’s long-term plans.

Luis Gil Impressing the Yankees Early-On

MLB: New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox
May 12, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Gil (81) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of attention is being directed to arms like Will Warren, Chase Hampton, and Clayton Beeter who have yet to debut with the team and are expected to get lengthy looks in Spring Training. Luis Gil is just as talented as that group and has arguably the best stuff of the group, although he’ll be working back from Tommy John Surgery. The Dominican-born righty has a power four-seamer that hit 97 MPH according to Austin Wells, who raved about the pitch and how it looked from behind the plate and in the batter’s box.

His changeup looked great off his fastball. He located it well and there was a good enough speed difference. Obviously, he’s putting in a lot of work to get back to where he’s at, and I think he hit 96-97 today.

– Austin Wells

If the Yankees want to prevent runs effectively in 2024, they’ll need not more than just their main guys to carry their workload, but they’ll also need some depth arms to step up. Injuries are a certainty, it’s just a matter of who gets hurt and for how long they end up being out, as it’ll be all hands on deck for the Bronx Bombers. In seven starts at the Major League level, Luis Gil has a 3.78 ERA and 4.13 FIP, striking out 29.1% of batters faced but walking 14.2% of them in contrast.

He was able to return for just four innings of rehab work with the Single-A Tampa Tarpons at the end of the 2023 season, and everything in his repertoire looked as good as it had when he was one of the team’s best prospects. Luis Gil is hoping that he can become a starter for the team at some point, and the talent is certainly there as he had a 119 Stuff+ and 103 Pitching+ in his 33.1 innings of work between 2021 and 2022 with the New York Yankees.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Gil (81) throws a live bathing practice session during spring training practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

If he can improve the changeup, that’ll be the last piece of the puzzle for Luis Gil, who is a headache for right-handed batters but struggles against opposite-handed hitters. At the MLB level right-handed hitters have a 33.3% strikeout rate against Gil, whereas lefties struck out just 22.4% of the time against him since his slider doesn’t play as well in those matchups. His changeup didn’t have the velocity separation off of his fastball that the Yankees were aiming for, but he’s seemed to fix some of those issues.

Luis Gil will have to serve whatever role the Yankees have available for him, but he looks prepared to take on a starter’s workload if the situation calls for it in 2024.

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