Michael King’s transition back to the Yankees rotation is off to a strong start.
The right-hander’s four shutout innings in Tuesday night’s win over the Detroit Tigers impressed Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who isn’t ruling out a long-term role as a starting pitcher for King.
“He definitely has the weapons to do it,” Boone said. “It’s just a matter of transitioning and can he then hold the stuff in extended outings? … With what he’s been through now in his career, and the confidence he’s gained as a pitcher in this league, and I think a real good understanding of what he has and what he can use, I wouldn’t be surprised at anything he’s able to do.”
Tuesday marked the third start of the season for King, who started 59 games in the minor leagues, as well as 10 for the Yankees across 2020 and 2021.
King operated exclusively out of the Yankees’ bullpen in 2022, when he pitched to a 2.29 ERA over 51 innings, and had done the same throughout the first four months of this season. But injuries to the rotation and the absence of Domingo German, who is receiving inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse, left the Yankees in need of starters.
The 28-year-old King has been steadily building up his pitch count in recent weeks. His 61 pitches Tuesday were 11 more than his previous outing five days earlier and the most he’d thrown since July 3, 2021.
King has pitched 8.2 innings across his three starts this season, allowing two earned runs while striking out 11.
“It’s nice being on a five-day [rotation] and knowing that you have a full five days to really gameplan for a team, work on stuff in the bullpen instead of having to work on it while you’re out there,” King said. “I remember that was a big thing when I became a reliever. In between outings, it’s not like I can really work on stuff because I need to be hot that next day.”
Boone said King looked “really sharp” Tuesday with his four-seam and two-seam fastballs and his offspeed pitches. King said he felt comfortable facing the Tigers hitters the second time through the order.
“I felt great,” King said. “I think I came out of the gate a little too hot because I remember, I think it was in the second inning, I realized that my [velocity] was a little bit down, but every time I wanted to reach back for more, I felt like I could.”
Last season came to an early end for King after he suffered an elbow fracture in July 2022. He has largely returned to form this year, pitching to a 2.96 ERA across 43 total appearances.
Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes are locked into starting roles in 2024, but Luis Severino and Frankie Montas, who has not pitched this season after February shoulder surgery, are impending free agents. Clarke Schmidt has an 8-8 record and a 4.51 ERA over 27 appearances, including 26 starts, for the Yankees this year, while youngsters Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez have also filled in for the team’s rotation.
With more outings like Tuesday’s, King could end up in the mix for a starting spot next season.
Source: Berkshire mont