The COVID shortened 2020 MLB Season has Yankee fans asking a lot of questions about pitching. Barring any setbacks with Tanaka’s concussion, the Yankees should be fully healthy besides former Cy Young Candidate Luis Severino, who had Tommy John surgery, and won’t return until 2021, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be competition for a spot in the bullpen, or even the 5th spot in the rotation.
One player that could make Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman’s roster decisions tougher is Clarke Schmidt. A former 1st Round Draft Pick (16th Overall) by the Yankees in 2017, 24-year-old Schmidt has had a tough road to get to where he is today. Before the draft, Schmidt underwent Tommy John surgery after he tore his right elbow’s UCL. Prior to his season-ending injury in college, Clarke Schmidt was having a great season with South Carolina in the SEC with a 1.34 ERA in 60.1 IP.
Schmidt boasts an amazing breaking ball, which he exhibited on Monday’s Intrasquad Game. Striking out the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez (granted these players were coming in cold), Clarke Schmidt showcased his deadly slider, which as outlined by Jomboy Media, has a crazy fast arch.
It’s tough to say what the Yankees will do with this young pitcher, as there isn’t much room for him. The righty figures to fit in somewhere in the Bullpen, unless he can steal the 5th spot on the pitching rotation while Masahiro Tanaka rehabs from the 114 MPH line drive he took in practice the other day. That 5th spot won’t come easy, as there are plenty of young arms the Yanks could turn to, including Deivi Garcia. Aaron Boone may also decide to use the bullpen as the 5th starter, as he did in the 2019 season. It’s likely that the Yankees would want to keep Schmidt on the 30 man roster that they are permitted by the MLB to carry, as it’s more beneficial to his development rather than being sent home (minor league seasons have been canceled due to COVID). If Schmidt can show that he can strike out other MLBers in the exhibition games, the 24 year-old right hander could (and should) nab a spot in the Yankees bullpen.