Yankees' Luis Gil might've unlocked secret to beating Orioles for rest of MLB

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The New York Yankees barged into Baltimore on the heels of back-to-back 15-run explosions in Milwaukee, but lost Alex Verdugo to the Paternity List hours prior to the first game after swapping him to the cleanup spot helped fuel the breakout. Predictably, their bats winced a bit; they were shut out for the fifth time in 2024 in the opener, then dropped Game 2 by a score of 4-2.

Lost in the Soto Shuffle, though? The vaunted Orioles performed very similarly offensively in the first two contests of the year between these newfound foes. They won both coin flips, but outside of a strung-together rally against Nestor Cortes Jr., Baltimore's bats were largely held in check by Yankees pitching.

After watching Luis Gil work last Wednesday, let's just say that Cortes being the only stumbling block made even more sense.

Gil was electric, harnessing his command and using a devilishly riding high-velocity fastball to keep the Orioles chasing, even after the hard stuff. His control might've been the key to a strong start, but his heater itself was the key to taming the Orioles -- and you'd better believe the rest of the league is taking notes.

So far in 2024, Baltimore can't consistently slug against 95+ MPH heaters, leaving them susceptible to the same buzzsaw that's knocked the righty-heavy Yankees out of the postseason consistently since 2017. Don't like velocity? Please enjoy every playoff team's never-ending parade of disgusting righty relievers who throw tomahawks.

Yankees starter Luis Gil found Orioles' Achilles Heel last Wednesday night

Brandon Hyde made it clear Baltimore wanted no part of Clay Holmes, either. To which we say: Good.

Now, just because the Yankees were able to take advantage of the Orioles' velocity struggles on Wednesday does not mean they've fully cracked the code yet. After all, the team's bullpen (behind Holmes) is notoriously strikeout averse. Somehow, after printing high-velocity relievers for years, the Yankees now find themselves devoid of swing-and-miss in the late innings, especially without Jonathan Loaisiga and Nick Burdi. That could leave them unprepared to corral the O's in the late innings in the same way that fellow contenders like Cleveland and Seattle might be able to. A resurgent Red Sox team, which spams off-speed thanks to Andrew Bailey's tutelage, might struggle with the Orioles, too, despite over-performing against the rest of the league.

Their current deficiency doesn't mean the Yankees are cooked for the year, though. It just means that their trade deadline has now been fully clarified -- and that Gerrit Cole's return can't come soon enough. If they can outbid the competition in the deadline's forthcoming relief swarm, they just might be able to steal the upper hand in the AL East after all.