Gil’s third ramp-up attempt and final audition to make the big-league roster as a swingman (in the role currently held by Clarke Schmidt) showed a sudden increase in hittability; the right-hander went 2.1 innings against the Blue Jays, allowing 8 hits and 5 earned runs.
Unfortunately, that carried over into his Triple-A campaign, where he carries a 7.89 ERA. Believe it or not, Gil has actually been on the comparative right track in recent weeks; he began the year with a 12.00 ERA and 12 walks in his first 12 innings pitched.
As is so often the case for pitching prospects reliant on a mega fastball, Gil’s season took another dark turn on Wednesday evening, less than a week after his big-league spot start in Chicago (another Yankees win, of course).
In the midst of another solid start (his third in a row, across levels), Gil pulled himself from the game after throwing a breaking ball in the middle of the fifth, gesturing to his elbow before cutting his throat.
For the optimistic among us (very few), it seemed Gil was pointing to the underside of his elbow and not his forearm, the most common source of Tommy John tightness. Regardless of where on his body he was gesturing, this is a very bad sign.
Yankees top prospect Luis Gil pulls himself from start with elbow injury
And, there you have it! Easily the worst way to clear up the logjam in the Triple-A rotation ahead of Ken Waldichuk’s arrival this weekend.
Presumably without Gil for quite a while, even before jumping to the worst-case scenario, the Yankees still sit in a solid spot with their pitching depth, but will probably have to try some untested arms sooner than later at the big-league level. Schmidt is available for spot starts behind the top five, and Domingo German (shudder) is also reportedly en route back to the big club in the not-so-distant future.
Beyond that, the Bombers will likely turn to top prospect Hayden Wesneski or spring standout Manny Bañuelos, neither of whom are currently on the team’s 40-man roster.
Gil quickly gained popularity with fans, thanks to his unhittable fastball and genuine social media personality. Losing him for an extended length of time would be a brutal depth blow first and foremost, but it would also significantly sting on a personal level.
Perhaps something was barking in Gil’s elbow dating back to that spring meltdown, or perhaps this was a sudden onset injury.
At this point, fans have to hope the righty was just practicing an impressive amount of caution by pulling himself for a minor injury (the way Max Scherzer also did on Wednesday).