Tonight the New York Yankees will have their finale with the New York Mets. It is the rubber game of the series, and Clarke Schmidt will start the game in his first start of the season. Schmidt was considered for a starter role for the 2021 season, but a common extensor strain ended the highly-rated prospect’s hopes. An MRI confirmed no serious damage, but a couple of bouts with renewed discomfort kept him out.
Schmidt has started 7 games in the minor leagues en route to his return. He is 0-1 with a 2.96 ERA. With the Yankees short on dependable pitchers, the Yankees will be hopeful he can give them three or four innings. He is not stretched out, pitching a total of 27.1 innings. In his last four games at Scranton, he has 20 strikeouts over 15 innings of work.
If you are not familiar with Schmidt or have forgotten about him, here is what you need to know. Clarke was born in Acworth, Georgia, attended Allatoona High School, and played baseball at the University of South Carolina. Schmidt pitched in 18 games and made 10 starts as a freshman, pitching to a 2–2 with a 4.81 ERA and 55. He became South Carolina’s ace as a sophomore in 2016. He pitched in 18 games with 17 starts and went 9–5 with a 3.40 ERA and 129 strikeouts. Schmidt remained the team’s number one starter his junior year in 2017, but he was forced to have Tommy John surgery to repair an ACL in April.
Nevertheless, he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2017 draft but did hot play that year at all rehabbing. He made his pro debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2018. He got a big signing bonus of $2.1 million. He quickly worked his way in the minors finishing the season with a 3.09 ERA in 23 1/3 innings. He started 2019 with the Tampa Tarpons but was promoted to the Trenton Thunder in August, where he pitched until it was announced that there would be no minor league season. Then, on September 4th, he was called up to the Stadium, where he pitched in relief. The 24-year-old pitched in 3 games for 6.1 innings striking out seven but had an elevated 7.11 ERA.
He really impressed manager Aaron Boone and the coaching staff during spring training. Pitching coach Matt Blake feels that Schmidt is progressing well and is the second most promising pitcher after Deivi Garcia. Garcia has had a disappointing 2021 for the Rail Riders. Tonight at Citi Field, he will finally get his chance to start a game this season before it is turned over to the bullpen. The Yankees sent Andrew Velazquez down to Scranton to make room for him on the roster, although that is likely not the last we will see of him this season.