Was Saturday the nail in Clarke Schmidt's coffin? Absolutely not. There's more to see. But is pitcher trending in the right direction for the New York Yankees? Not exactly. And that further puts his future and role with the team in question.
Schmidt got the start in the Yankees' second game of 2023 after all the injuries that rocked the rotation. Schmidt jumped the line after it appeared he was baked in to a bullpen role for the entirety of the season.
Even after Frankie Montas' surgery, it was a foregone conclusion Domingo Germán would win the No. 5 spot. But then down went Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino. The plans changed fast. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, either.
Schmidt came up in the Yankees' system as a starter. He prefers starting. Some fans were hoping he'd beat out Germán for the role when Montas went down, considering the team already knew what it had in Germán, while the jury was still out on Schmidt.
Even with an opportunity now, he's not doing himself any favors. His outing against the Giants now has him at a 5.40 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in six career starts. And he's gotten rocked to the tune of a .305 opponents' average and .830 OPS vs. a .217 average and .673 OPS as a reliever.
Clarke Schmidt may not be a prospect that pans out for the Yankees
Schmidt also can't pitch to lefties. Literally just cannot. The cutter didn't change much in his first outing. And in that case ... can he really be an effective reliever? Here are his career splits vs righties and lefties:
- Schmidt vs righties - .203/.292/.279 slash line in 158 at-bats
- Schmidt vs lefties - .306/.397/.529 slash line in 121 at-bats
Though he showed some flashes in relief last year, he still had his blowups. He wasn't particularly good in save situations (4.05 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 13.1 innings). And with the three-batter minimum rule, how can he be anything other than an innings-eater out of the bullpen if that's his eventual fate?
Schmidt might only be 27, but he's been with the Yankees since he was drafted in the first round back in 2017. He now has a prime opportunity to prove his ceiling might be achievable after a six-year wait. If not? The front office can't keep trying to "figure it out" with the right-hander if the results/role isn't there.
The Yankees are partially to blame for debuting him in the most bizarre of circumstances in 2020, and then further taking him off his path to be a big-league starter. But Schmidt's the one pitching and it's on him to deliver results, regardless of how he's called upon.