The 2022 New York Yankees‘ trade deadline got fundamentally reshaped when eighth-inning (and beyond) ace Michael King bounced a breaking ball and signaled to the dugout for a reprieve. Immediately, he knew that something had gone haywire inside his elbow, robbing the Yanks of their premier Houdini option, as well as a starter-turned-reliever who could erase two-inning chunks in a flash when he was on.
Prior to King’s injury, the team’s deadline goal was to add a surprise reliever to the airbending right-hander. After? The Yankees might need two top options as they try to weather the second-half storm.
There’s no “positive” spin on King’s devastating injury, other than to say it occurred before the trade deadline, giving the Yankees an extra week to move their chips around. At the very least, though, it appears post-injury examinations have revealed that King’s injury is devastating, but not as devastating as it could’ve been.
When late-night word leaked Friday that King had suffered a “fracture” in his elbow rather than a ligament tear, fans breathed a brief collective sigh of relief before follow-up reporting indicated nobody was out of the woods yet. Tommy John surgery was still on the table Sunday morning when Aaron Boone followed up with the press corps.
According to MLB insider Jon Heyman on Tuesday morning, though, King’s post-fracture examinations came back … relatively clean. His UCL appears to be intact. He won’t return this season by any means, but he might even be back by Spring Training 2023.
Yankees’ Michael King avoids UCL damage with elbow fracture
Wait … what does “pretty good for a pitcher” mean?! (swallows, gulps, ignores) All good news then!
If there’s any option to do some stabilization on King’s ligament while he happens to be in the operating chair, perhaps the surgeons could do a little bonus work with a wink and a handshake. Tommy John remains a terrifying monster that can rear its head at any time, already striking important Yankees pieces like Luis Gil and Chad Green in 2022. Just because it’s been avoided once doesn’t mean it’ll be avoided forever.
That said … whew.
For now, King’s 2022 will go in the books as an All-Star snub first half that clattered to the turf far too soon. Fans should not forget how much of King’s handiwork contributed to the team’s spectacular start as they bemoan how many awesome curveballs they lost with his premature injury.
Pitching is inherently dangerous. Man is not supposed to throw a ball this way, this hard, this many times. King’s injury threw the Yankees’ trade deadline into flux, but at the very least, it seems he won’t be lost for all of next season as well.
Knock on wood.