When Michael King went down with a fractured elbow in late July, the New York Yankees’ bullpen took a hit that it truly never recovered from. King was arguably the most valuable arm that manager Aaron Boone had at his disposal to deploy at various points of tight games.
The Yankees were ready to take the second half of the season by storm after stumbling a bit into the All-Star break, but King’s injury on July 22, followed by Giancarlo Stanton’s Achilles issue a day later, set the table for one of the worst six-week stretches of baseball you’ll ever see.
The uncertainty surrounding King made it worse, too. The original diagnosis was a fractured elbow, but there was still a possibility for Tommy John surgery, which had the organization staring down the barrel of the right-hander missing all of 2023, too.
On Thursday, though, King delivered the best news possible for the Yankees and their fans in speaking with Sports Illustrated:
"“The Yankees reliever told Sports Illustrated that he does not need Tommy John surgery after imaging confirmed that his ulnar collateral ligament is “intact.” King, a righty, had been hoping for this news since suffering a stress fracture in his throwing elbow in July, but the initial pain prevented him from getting into a proper position for an MRI on his UCL. Original images appeared to be clean but were inconclusive.”"
Yankees finally get good news on Michael King’s status for 2023
For months it’s been unclear if King would need the procedure, and Yankees fans have been fretting about the bullpen status in 2023, which already looks fairly bleak given all the hits the unit has endured in 2022 (in addition to spots clearing out due to free agency).
The uncertainty made it worse, too, because King had finally come into his own this season after the team placed him in a bullpen role and stopped messing around. In previous seasons, he was used as a starter, short reliever and long reliever all in one.
But in 2022, the Yankees settled on a job for him, and the results were as good as they could’ve been. King’s underlying metrics were phenomenal and were paired with a 2.29 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 1.00 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 51 innings of work through 34 games. Nearly an All-Star. Should’ve been an All-Star. Then, a week later, all the uncertainty in the world until the end of September.
Though the Yankees’ main concern right now is this coming postseason, it never hurts to look ahead and know you’re not approaching dire straits. King said he doesn’t expect to miss any time next year.
That means the Yankees can plan ahead for him, Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga, Lou Trivino, Clarke Schmidt, Ron Marinaccio and Scott Effross to make up a pretty formidable cast of relievers after the fat is trimmed in a few weeks.
First an AL East title. Then Aaron Judge’s record-tying home run. And now good injury news? Where are we?