The Yankees they are living their best time in season and starting rotation has been the driving force behind such success — with Corey kluber on the way and scheduled to return on Monday. It seems like it was a long time ago, but at the beginning of August, that rotation did not have two key pieces: Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, who spent nearly two weeks on the COVID-19 injured list.
During those days, the Dominican Luis Gil – the club’s fourth-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline – wowed New York. In the first three starts of his major league career, the 23-year-old right-hander pitched 15.2 scoreless innings and struck out 18 opponents, a performance with historic edges.
Gil is the only major league pitcher since 1893 to throw at least 4.2 scoreless innings in each of his first three appearances, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And the 15.2 blank acts to start his career are the most for a Yankees pitcher since 1961, topping Joba Chamberlain’s 15.1 in 2007.
But when the Yankees announced their likely rotation for the four-game series in Oakland against the Athletics, one of their rivals in the Wild Card race, Gil’s name was not among the starters. Instead, Gil started Tuesday for Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre against Lehigh Valley, where he threw 6.1 innings, allowed four hits and two earned runs. He walked two and struck out six for the win.
Taking Gil down may be a curious decision on the part of the Yankees – although Cole and Montgomery have returned to action – but manager Aaron Boone explained why.
“Look, we have five guys in our rotation who are starting games right now and in many ways, we would have had to get rid of one of them to have Gil,” Boone said. “And I don’t know if that’s the smartest thing to do right now, especially when we’re having a lot of really good starts.
“Obviously, Luis went up, shot very well and has placed himself in the competition, in that conversation, but … we want to maintain a bit of that depth, especially since we don’t know what we are going to need later on.”
As the final month of the regular season approaches, the Yankees’ rotation will be adding more pieces. In addition to Kluber, Dominican Domingo Germán, Michael King and Luis Severino from Santiago are scheduled to join the team in September after the disabled list.
That means, as successful as Gil has been in his starts, there simply isn’t enough room for him at the Major League level. And until that changes, the Yankees are eager to see what he can do in the minors by pitching regularly.
“We are all very excited about what he can accomplish as a starter, but in many ways, he continues to develop as a pitcher,” Boone recalled. “It is important that you continue to work on that consistency that you need to demonstrate to reach that level we think you can reach.”
Germán to the bullpen?
Gil’s role is not the only one that could change in the coming weeks. With all the moves the Yankees will have to make once all those pitchers return, Boone acknowledged that when he spoke of Germán’s plans. The manager hinted that there is a very reasonable chance that Germán will not regain the rotation spot he vacated on Aug. 1 and could instead be used as a reliever.
“We will see what our needs are,” Boone said. “It is good to have these problems, but things will have to be resolved and we will see what is best for each one and for us from now on.”
Those chances could increase, depending on what news the Yankees get about Zack Britton, who was placed on the disabled list Monday because of a strained elbow. The outlook is still unclear, but Boone acknowledged that it is not out of the question that Britton will have to undergo surgery.
Germán has made three relief appearances so far this year – all in July – and had a 7.50 ERA with seven strikeouts in six innings. He is 4-5 with a 4.25 ERA in 18 starts as a starter this season.
When asked if moving so many pieces could affect the rhythm of the Yankees during this great moment they are living, Boone responded without hesitation.
“Did not say. “All the guys have done their bit during this streak. We have been playing well for over a month, with players coming and going. We will be happy the more good players we can receive back ”.
Betelhem Ashame / MLB.com