Yankees shouldn’t alter Michael King’s role because of Frankie Montas injury

Thomas Carannante
Apr 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael King (34) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael King (34) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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When New York Yankees fans learned of Frankie Montas’ shoulder injury, the immediate response was a ton of groans, considering it’s the same injury Montas had before arriving in the Bronx before last year’s trade deadline. And it meant either Domingo Germán or Clarke Schmidt would be slotting into the No. 5 starter role, which is a massive dropoff.

So that’s led many to speculate what the solution might be. Because there needs to be one. If the Yankees lose another starter at any point over the next three months, that means both Germán and Schmidt could be in the rotation. And that’s a disaster.

Michael Wacha’s still available. Perhaps top prospect Will Warren gets expedited to the bigs with an impressive spring training? That’s certainly a long shot. But the alternatives aren’t appealing. Deivi Garcia? OK, we’re really grasping for straws now.

But you know what the Yankees really don’t need to do? Use Michael King as a spot starter to begin the season, because that’ll create more problems than solutions.

Why? Well, first off, he’s terrible in that role. The Yankees have tried it before, and it’s been the most obvious blemish on his resume. Secondly, he’s recovering from a fractured elbow. How does an increased workload ensure his longevity for the entirety of 2023?

The Yankees should not use Michael King as a fifth starter under any circumstance

King as a starter? 0-5 with a 6.52 ERA, 1.66 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 10 games (38.2 innings). Horrible! King as a reliever? 9-4 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 56 games (104.1 innings).

For whatever reason, King cannot be the first pitcher to take the mound for the Yankees. He’s come on as a long reliever to follow an opener or after a starter got knocked out early and managed to excel, but that’s still not how he should be utilized.

Again, King cannot be absorbing extensive mileage on his arm early in the season as he works his way back. That’ll put him in danger of fatigue That’s the paramount concern. More importantly, though, King established himself as arguably the best high-leverage reliever on the Yankees this past season. Why move him out of a role in which he dominated?

King’s road to discovering himself has been a fairly long one. He was bad in the shortened 2020 and mostly unimpressive in 2021. Then, he was no longer starting games in 2022 and actually finished 10. His 2.29 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 1.00 WHIP and 55 strikeouts were all career bests, with most of the work coming in the seventh and eighth innings (33.1 of his 51 frames).

With the question marks already surrounding this bullpen, taking King out of the back end equation makes this team significantly worse. Putting more of a workload on his recovering elbow puts the bullpen in serious jeopardy.

Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Chad Green are gone. The natural order of progression was always King joining Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta and Jonathan Loaisiga to shut the door on close games — not to open them.

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