One of our collective favorite things to do as New York Yankees fans is overlook or minimize the contributions of younger players/prospects. Sometimes, we even write off prospects just for the hell of it (see: Estevan Florial)!
Too often we believe that this team is the New York Yankees (they are?) and there can’t be a non-superstar at any given position. Won’t accept it. Twelve-year World Series drought? Fill it up with more $100 million contracts and call it a day. We’ll see you at the parade.
But it’s not that easy (it never is). Plus, there should be a healthy mix of young talent, superstars, and wily veterans because that’s usually the proper concoction for a title run. And in the case of the 2022 Yankees, we’d venture to say they need more young talent.
Out of all the starters, Gleyber Torres is the youngest at 25 … and nobody else is particularly close. Everyone else is entering their age-28 season or higher. We’d be surprised if the Yankees could squeeze another young position player starter in there, but there’s a chance they can make one more prominent on the pitching staff. Luis Gil, anyone?
Why do we seem to be writing off Gil for the 2022 season? He made his MLB debut last year and finished with a 3.07 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in six starts, which came after an expedited trip through Double- and Triple-A. He’s got some control issues that need to be sorted out, but a triple-digit fastball? Strikeouts out the wazoo?
Why can’t he start the year in the rotation pitching every sixth day before being moved into the bullpen later in the year as we head down the stretch?
This hybrid plan for Yankees pitcher Luis Gil could work wonders for the rotation.
You want a No. 2 starter. We get it. Will that happen? Maybe. The Yankees front office is unpredictable year to year, and we wouldn’t put it past them to deem this group of arms sufficient enough to plow ahead after an overachieving year.
With or without a formidable name behind Gerrit Cole, though, Gil has a role to play. Jameson Taillon likely won’t be ready for the start of the year. Luis Severino might not be thrown into the fire as quickly as we think after hardly pitching since 2019. Nestor Cortes Jr. might end up being a swingman so the Yankees can preserve him throughout the year.
That’s where Gil comes in. You want to make do while Taillon is recovering from ankle surgery? You want to ensure Severino and Cortes get sufficient rest? Use Gil as a starter for the first two and a half months of the year, get his innings around his career high of 96 back in 2019, and then utilize his 100 MPH fastball out of the bullpen when that unit will inevitably need reinforcement as the season drags on.
Out of all the young pitchers that have cracked the bigs from the Yankees’ farm system, Gil made the best first impression since … Severino? No, seriously, I don’t think we’re kidding. You could make the argument for Jordan Montgomery or Deivi Garcia, but they surely weren’t as imposing as Gil was. We’re still waiting on Clarke Schmidt, too.
Maybe Gil’s usage in the rotation is even shorter than that. After all, he showed some issues with his longevity per outing, racking up his pitch count and averaging fewer than five innings each trip to the mound. Additionally, his three-pitch arsenal (fastball, slider, changeup) might be indicative of more relief appearances in his future.
Either way, he can be utilized as a spot starter to begin the year as the Yankees get healthy and determine the outlook of their starting rotation before they move guys into more definitive roles. It might be best to have Gil focusing on starting and relieving separately, too, because we’ve seen what happens when younger pitchers get abruptly jerked around between the rotation and the ‘pen.
Something to consider … if he’s not traded, of course.