Dominant Clarke Schmidt outing puts him atop leaderboard with hated ex-Yankee

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Even as the New York Yankees attempt to move past the bag fumbling associated with their 2017 core (sans-Aaron Judge), there's always something there to remind them of what they squandered.

Back then, the Yankees seemed poised for generational success, riding a 2016 trade deadline farm system infusion to the top of the game quicker than anyone expected in 2017. That magical team cracked the 90-win barrier ahead of schedule and took a 3-2 ALCS lead on the Houston Astros, but petered out ... only to never quite hit those heights again. Boston. Houston again. Tampa. Boston again. Houston again. Neat.

Though the Yankees won his only start of the 2017 ALCS, the team's upstart success was really no thanks to Sonny Gray, one of several big-time starters they banked on during the era who were unable to deliver under the pressures of the Bronx (and the tutelage of Larry Rothschild). Gray seems like a great guy, and no one will blame him for the administration's failures, but just because you're not Frankie Montas doesn't mean you aren't also a disappointment.

It also doesn't mean that your future success -- in Cincinnati, Minnesota, St. Louis ... yeah, pretty much across the board -- won't sting. And that success means that Yankee fans can't even fully enjoy Clarke Schmidt's 2023-24 breakout, because the only righty he can't brag to about limiting damage is Gray himself.

Dominant Clarke Schmidt outing puts him atop leaderboard with hated ex-Yankee

But not anymore! Schmidt's brilliant 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rays on Friday night just tied him with Gray!

In avoiding blowup outings, Schmidt has been the successful starter (alongside Gray) in MLB over the past season-plus, ranking just behind the former Yankee in terms of allowing three runs or fewer. But ... also ... by the time you reach the end of that impressive sentence, there's just a big, red siren blaring "SONNY GRAY" that hasn't stopped blaring since 2018.

Schmidt's emergence as a bonafide rotation option who can provide 5-6 innings of length consistently while missing a significant number of bats seems to have secured his wily future in the team's quintet, even after Gerrit Cole hopefully returns. It could be tempting to add his swing-and-miss (and control) to the bullpen rather than testing out Luis Gil, especially given his troubles the third time through the order.

For now, though, it's worth celebrating that, while he gets very little shine, there's nobody better at keeping the game within reach.