Yankees: Can Clarke Schmidt live up to expectations in 2021?


Clarke Schmidt is considered the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect, but can he help the 2021 rotation?

The New York Yankees’ offseason started with a lot of questions. A number of guys were hitting free agency and, even with them on the roster, a number of holes still needed to be filled. The main priority became about getting second baseman DJ LeMahieu to re-sign.

Although LeMahieu was rightfully the top priority, there’s a dire need for pitching. With the 2020 season behind them, the Bronx Bombers need three pitchers to bolster the rotation. With no attractive free agents available, that left internal options and trades the two likely ways general manager Brian Cashman would fix this issue.

According to a YES Network article, the projected rotation may include Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, and Jonathan Loaisiga, and the team added rebound candidate Corey Kluber late Friday night. There’s a chance that they could bring back a pitcher like Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton, but that’s less and less likely given that LeMahieu is coming back and the Yankees don’t want to go over the luxury tax threshold.

Although the Yankees signed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league deal, that won’t be enough to help the rotation improve. He’s merely a depth option. Though we’re expected to see Luis Severino return at some point in June or July, the Yankees can’t rely on him returning to ace-like form from the get-go.

While Deivi Garcia is getting more opportunities to become part of the rotation, you’ve got to wonder if there is another pitcher who should get a chance. Perhaps it should be Clarke Schmidt.

The New York Yankees selected Schmidt in the first found of the 2017 MLB draft. Although his college career ended with him having to undergo Tommy John surgery, he managed to go 15-9 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 254 strikeouts in 45 games (36 starts), totaling 229.2 innings.

But the elbow issues didn’t stop the Yankees from drafting him, and it paid off since he’s now the No. 2 prospect in the organization heading into 2021.

In two seasons in the minors, Schmidt went 6-8 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 132 strikeouts in 27 games (25 starts), totaling 114 innings. Does that give him a chance to make the roster in 2021 after he got some big league time in 2020?

In an interview with YES network reporter Meredith Marakovits, Schmidt said, “I’m at a place right now where I’m hungrier than ever to get back out there next spring.” With only a few games under his belt, there is hope for more development opportunities, especially since we know the Yankees will need fillers in the rotation when injuries inevitably occur.

Schmidt provides the Yankees with a three-pitch arsenal that excels when he has control. While the question is out if he can make the roster, if given a chance and healthy, he should make a run for one of the spots in the back end of the rotation, especially since he’ll be competing with Domingo German and Deivi Garcia, both of whom are largely unproven talents as well.

The opportunity is certainly there. Now it’s time for Schmidt to force the Yankees’ hand.