Keynan Middleton injury gives Yankees prospect Matt Krook well-earned redemption shot

Krook's first go-round did not go well. Now, he gets a low-pressure shot for a team that's rolling.
New York Yankees v St. Louis Cardinals - Game One
New York Yankees v St. Louis Cardinals - Game One / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

In an unprecedented development that will shake the foundation of the baseball landscape, one of Brian Cashman's trade acquisitions has reached the injured list about a month after being acquired by the Yankees. This has never happened before.

This time, it's reliever Keynan Middleton, who was the lone big-league addition at this summer's bizarre-as-hell trade deadline. Spencer Howard, who was added at the minor-league level, is also injured and has been released.

Middleton's shoulder inflammation (entering free agency) can't be easily pinned to Cashman's ledger, but when something is a four-year pattern, it's hard not to roll your eyes out of your head, watch them drop onto the hardwood floor, then be diagnosed with some form of eyeball shoulder inflammation. Luckily (for everyone but Middleton), there's a Yankees silver lining this time around.

Matt Krook, the left-handed reliever/starter hybrid who starred in 2022 and seemed poised to grab a role out of the bullpen in spring training this season, has been recalled for an exciting go-round with the Kids this September. The only downside? He'll once again likely have to make an appearance at Fenway Park, the personal house of horrors where he watched his debut fly off the rails and run over those loose eyeballs.

Yankees lefty Matt Krook gets another chance at life in the bigs

Don't worry, Matt. We all hate Fenway.

Krook's MLB debut came in Boston on June 16, a date that will live in infamy and featured Domingo Germán, two starts before his perfect game, getting every single one of his doors blown off. In a tone-setter game that helped foster a three-game Red Sox sweep, Krook entered a 5-1 contest with runners on second and third and nobody out. One run felt assured. Two runs would be understandable. The game was nearly over, anyway, unless the Yankees' then-putrid offense could mount a 6-1 comeback.

Krook recorded the first out without a run scoring, inducing a Triston Casas groundout. Josh Donaldson then cut down a runner at the plate on a fielder's choice, keeping everyone's ledger clean. One more out to go ... and it took a while. Pablo Reyes hit a soft grounder to Donaldson, which he bobbled and tossed to second ... in time to cut down a leaning runner, even though that did not happen. The tag was bad. Everyone was safe. The ball was ruled a hit, but if Donaldson was as excellent on defense as the narrative claims, he would've made the play. Then, all hell broke loose.

Another grounder to (a man we now know was concussed!) Anthony Rizzo went for an "infield single" on another questionable play. Justin Turner cleaned up the runners with a grand slam. Krook recorded the final out, then lasted another two-thirds of an inning before Albert Abreu beefed some more stuff and the Yankees lost 15-5. Now a sacrificial lamb in the dugout's eyes, Krook received just one more chance (1.1 innings, 3 walks, 2 earned runs in another lost game in St. Louis) before being demoted.

Between that rapid descent and his September rise, though? Krook was in flames at Scranton, after returning from a mysterious IL stint. All told, he has a 0.92 ERA in the minors this season, striking out 49 men in 29.1 innings pitched. Walks have still been a bugaboo (20), but his WHIP has remained a pristine 0.95 because he's allowed single-digit hits this season (8). He's hell on lefties; in 11.1 innings against them this season, he's yet to allow a single one of those hits, walking 12.

Krook has a chance to contribute to next season's bullpen, while Middleton likely doesn't, a Cashman folly for another column. The circumstances of his ascent and the Fenway-flavored timing are a bummer, but now another Yankees yute (the YES Network's term, not mine) has a chance to carve out a role in the "next generation," which might be assembling sooner than we expected. It's a good thing the Yankees figured out a way to get the 28-year-old rookie back on the roster before spring competitions begin in earnest again next year.