Clarke Schmidt gets his first real chance to stick in Yankees’ rotation – New York Daily News
Clarke Schmidt has gotten the short end of the stick during his Yankees tenure.
The 2017 first-round pick spent nearly his entire college and minor-league career as a starting pitcher however, despite a few spot starts here and there, he’s yet to have a real opportunity to become a mainstay in the Bombers’ rotation.
That will change beginning Saturday afternoon.
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Schmidt will take the ball for the Yankees — with a tough act to follow after Gerrit Cole’s record-setting Opening Day performance — in their second game of the season against the San Francisco Giants.
The right-hander began spring training in competition — after Frankie Montas’s shoulder surgery that will keep him out until at least the second half of the season — with Domingo German to become the clubs’ fifth starter. However, a forearm injury to the newly-signed southpaw Carlos Rodon and a lat injury to Luis Severino has extended that competition through the beginning weeks of the season.
“My mentality never changes,” Schmidt said after Rodon’s injury was announced. “I’m always trying to be aggressive and on the attack. I’ve always wanted the opportunity to be a consistent starter in the big leagues and I always felt that would come.
“I think for me, it’s continuing to stay within myself, go out there and throw strikes, I’m trying to be myself and go out there and cover a lot of things.”
The 27-year-old will be making just the sixth start of his career. Schmidt made cameos in 2020 and 2021 combining for two starts and five appearances total. In 2022. he appeared in 29 games while starting three of them registering a 3.17 ERA — also adding three postseason appearances to his résumé — as he traveled back and forth between the Bronx and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
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Schmidt will be relying on a new pitch to lock him in as a mainstay in Aaron Boone’s staff for the foreseeable future. The cutter.
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“It’s like getting a new car; you’re itching and itching to use it,” Schmidt said after his first spring start against the Braves on Feb. 26. “I think it’s going to be a big pitch for me…
“I’ve noticed a lot of hitters are swinging under it because they’re expecting some sink, and it stays up with the cut,” Schmidt added. “It’s been such a high strike-percentage pitch for me early on. It was almost like I started throwing it and I felt like it’s been my best pitch for years.”
The Yankees’ skipper approved of the addition to his right-hander’s arsenal citing that it could be something that puts him over the edge and allows him to break through as they expected when the organization selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of the University of South Carolina
“That could be something that really unlocks him and makes him now in play versus lefties in a longer, starting kind of role,” Boone said.
The Yankees have garnered a reputation under pitching coach Matt Blake for squeezing every bit of potential out of their arms. Nestor Cortes, Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, and many others were not exactly frontline pitchers prior to being under the wing of Blake and the Bombers’ staff.
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Schmidt could be the Yanks’ next breakout candidate with the pedigree of being a first-round pick and a new weapon to use in his first real shot to become a starting pitcher in pinstripes.