With the 2023 MLB season well underway, injuries have started to take their toll on the New York Yankees roster. With the newest Carlos Rodon injury being a back problem, the Yankees rotation will continue to rely on the likes of Jhony Brito, Clarke Schmidt, and Domingo German. While Brito and German have both found some success, Schmidt has struggled in each of his four starts to open the year.
The Believed Rotation
This past off-season, the Yankees thought Rodon was the finishing touches on what on paper looked like a top-tier program. Rodon would join Rodon at the top of the rotation. Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino were seen as the best third and fourth pitchers in baseball. Frankie Montas appeared like a prime bounce-back candidate.
Montas went down with a shoulder injury ending most of his year. A forearm strain preceded Rodon’s back injury. And Severino has been battling a lat injury. Even Cortes had a brief injury scare when a hamstring caused him to miss the World Baseball Classic.
The New Faces
Going into the year, the Yankees had to have liked their top-depth options to round out the rotation. German and Schmidt have both accumulated MLB experience over the past few years. Ideally, the Yankees figured one could make some spot starts while both were options for long relief. Instead, both have had to be the main options in the rotation.
Furthermore, as a result of trying to compete for a World Series, the Yankees have traded most of their top minor league pitchers. As a result, the young and unproven Brito has made multiple starts to start the season. While Brito was fantastic in his first two outings, he was unable to get out of the first in his last start, as the Twins scored seven runs off the young righty.
While German was just okay during his first two starts, he was so good in his last start that Twins fans have been consistently calling him a cheater since he struck out 11 over 6.2 innings. For German, his track record has seen plenty of ups and downs, but he has had enough success to give the team, and fans, some confidence in his abilities.
The Squeaky Wheel
Unfortunately, not every Yankee starter has seen some success in the early part of the season. In each of his four starts, Schmidt has struggled. While he has only 0-1 on the year, the Yankees are 1-3 in his starts while he has pitched to a dismal 8.79 ERA and a 5.96 FIP. Meanwhile, he has only completed four innings once, causing the Yankees to have to use multiple relievers to finish the games he has started.
For Schmidt, his main issue has been his inability to limit hits. In only 14.1 innings pitched, Schmidt has let up 22 hits, four of which have been home runs.
While the Yankees await for their hurt starting pitchers to return, the team doesn’t have many internal options. Over the past couple of seasons, the team traded most of their top minor league pitchers to help compete for a World Series. As a result, the team’s top prospects are almost completely hitters, with higher potential pitchers in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
With Severino throwing bullpen sessions, the Yankees will hope to have Severino rejoin the rotation in the near future. As a result, German, Schmidt, or Brito will be bumped from the rotation. With German out of minor-league options, it seems unlikely that he will be the odd one out.
For Brito and Schmidt, they might only get one or two more starts before one is removed from the rotation. At that point, the team will have to decide if either pitcher can help from the bullpen, or if they would be better served to stay “stretched out” in Triple-A. With both pitchers eligible to be sent to the minors, it’s easy to see a scenario where they are directly competing for the final spot.
With Schmidt’s continued struggles, it certainly feels like Brito has the edge.