Sunday, June 4 2023
Jul 30, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium.

Jul 30, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees were recently dealt a blow when Frankie Montas needed shoulder surgery, possibly ending his season.

Montas was projected to be the team’s fifth starter behind Gerrit Cole, new addition Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino. Now that the New York needs a fifth starter, they will have to look within the organization.

But based on a few factors, including experience, past performance and even rule changes, the job should be Clarke Schmidt’s.

Right now, the open spot is a two-horse race between Schmidt and Domingo German.

There is no other potential starter on the current roster who can possibly earn this spot. Michael King would have been an interesting name, but since he’s coming off an elbow injury and with how effective he was out of the bullpen it’ll be best for the Yanks if he stayed there.

So, why Schmidt over German?

Conventional wisdom says manager Aaron Boone and the organization would choose German, who has had plenty of starts in the big leagues, to be Montas’ replacement. But Schmidt simply has a higher ceiling.

The 26-year-old’s strikeout potential is far greater than German’s. Schmidt’s 8.7 K/9 is better than German’s 7.2, and he throws harder — around 95 mph compared 93 mph. Schmidt also developed a slider in recent years that he has been using more each season.

After developing it in 2021, Schmidt used the breaking pitch 37.9 percent of the time in 2022. Most notable is that he had a 41 percent whiff rate on his slider and a .240 xwOBA against it. He also has a curve ball, which he has a modest 23.9 percent whiff rate on but generated an insane .199 xwOBA against it last season.

That filthy stuff will potentially play well with the new shift rules that will be implemented this season. Strikeouts will now be more valuable as teams can’t simply have four or five infielders on one side to prevent ground balls from leaking through.

Aug 27, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German (55) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the third inning at RingCentral Coliseum.Aug 27, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German (55) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the third inning at RingCentral Coliseum.

Aug 27, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German (55) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the third inning at RingCentral Coliseum. / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

That could be German’s problem. While his breaking stuff was effective — opponents batted just .192 against it last year with a .315 slugging percentage against his changeup, and hit .219 against his curveball — his fastball left a lot to be desired. Opponents hit .319 against it.

The one argument for German is his major league experience.

German, 30, has a lifetime 4.37 ERA over five seasons in the big leagues. Last season was a career-best in many categories, including ERA (3.61) and WHIP (1.16).

We also can’t forget his 18-4 record in 2019.

Despite all of that, German simply can’t find himself a full-time role in the rotation. German has been a solid spot-starter who can slide in when there’s an injury or someone needs an extra day. That role is invaluable for a team going through a 162-game season, but if we’re looking for the best possible pitcher to fill the fifth starter role they should really give Schmidt a shot.

Schmidt was a starter in Triple-A last season where he pitched to a 3.27 ERA in eight starts (33 innings) with an elite 12.5 K/9. In the majors, he pitched to a respectable 3.12 ERA between his three starts and 29 overall appearances.

Of course, both will fight for the spot in the spring. But if both excel, the Yanks should still give it to Schmidt.

Even if it fails, the experience for Schmidt would be huge if the Yankees decide to put the experiment on the back-burner to let him get right and want to give it another go later on. It could also give the team insight on an area of need come the trade deadline.

If Schmidt performs well, they won’t need to trade for an arm and they may have restocked the depth they were projected to have before the Montas injury.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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