Michael King’s injury will test the Yankees’ pitching depth

·4 min read

BALTIMORE — The Yankees came into the season confident in their pitching depth. Now, that very depth will get tested.

The Yankees had to scramble Saturday to recover from the blow of losing Michael King, most likely for the year. The right-hander has been a big part of both the bullpen and the team’s success this season, and he likely broke his elbow Friday night throwing a pitch in the Yankees' 7-6 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

King’s elbow injury piles on top of the Yankees losing Miguel Castro for some time to a shoulder strain and Chad Green for the season to Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are also without Luis Severino for a while in the rotation as he recovers from a torn lat muscle.

They also have to be worried about Jameson Taillon, who is healthy, but has struggled for about a month now.

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and the Yankees are looking to bolster the pitching staff, but for the immediate future, they are going to have to test that pitching depth that they were so confident in back in February when spring training started.

Saturday, the Yankees called up right-hander Clarke Schmidt. He had been successful out of the bullpen early in the big leagues this season but was a victim of roster reduction at the end of May. They also brought up veteran Shane Greene, meaning they are concerned about the health or production of another reliever.

Both were expected to be at Camden Yards in time for Saturday night’s game against the Orioles.

Schmidt made 14 appearances out of the bullpen this season for the major league Yankees, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings pitched. He also made one start in the majors this season. Schmidt was sent to Triple-A to stretch out. He’s made five starts for the Scranton Railriders pitching to a 4.15 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings pitched.

Greene, a 33-year old veteran right-hander, broke into the big leagues with the Yankees back in 2014. He spent the bulk of his nine-year MLB career with the Tigers and Braves. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal earlier this year for this kind of situation. In 22 games with Triple-A Scranton, Greene has gone 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 appearances. He’s struck out 31 over 28 2/3 innings, picking up three saves.

The Yankees felt they were deep in pitching at the start of the season when they had Luis Gil, who had been brilliant in his debut last season, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt and JP Sears in spring training. Since then, their depth has been thinned out. The Yankees lost Gil to Tommy John surgery in May. Garcia has not been able to figure it out in Triple-A and has dropped off the Yankees radar before getting hurt.

Sears has proven he can pitch here. He’s made seven appearances in the big leagues, pitching to a 2.06 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. In two starts and five appearances out of the bullpen, the left-hander has struck out 15 in 22 innings pitched. Sent to the minors to stretch out, Sears has pitched in 10 games with Triple-A Scranton, making eight starts. He’s struck out 50 in 39 1/3 innings pitched. He has a 1.83 ERA with a 0.76 WHIP.

The Yankees have been very impressed with Ken Waldichuk, the lefty in Triple-A who will play in Sunday’s Future Game. Though not on the 40-man roster, there were some in the organization who predicted he would play a part in this big league season as far back as February.

There is also a chance right-hander Ron Marinaccio could be back in the bullpen as soon as Sunday. The right-hander, who was shut down with right shoulder inflammation earlier this month, pitched a perfect inning in his second minor-league rehab start Friday night. Marinaccio has pitched in 17 games for the Yankees this season, striking out 23 in 19 1/3 innings pitched. He has a 2.33 ERA, a 0.879 WHIP and the trust of the manager.