Bad MRI news for Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt, outs him until September

Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt is at Yankee Stadium after his dismal pitching against the Angels on Apr 18, 2023.

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In a major blow to the Yankees’ pitching staff, their breakout ace Clarke Schmidt has been placed on the 15-day injured list due to a right lat strain, the team announced Thursday. According to manager Aaron Boone, the MRI results were not encouraging, and Clarke Schmidt is facing an extended absence that could keep him sidelined until mid-August or early September.

The manager conceded that Clarke Schmidt’s recovery and rehabilitation process could face setbacks, potentially jeopardizing the remainder of his standout season. The 26-year-old right-hander, who boasts a 5-3 record with a 2.52 ERA (ninth-best in the American League) over 11 starts, will be prohibited from throwing for four to six weeks.

Boone revealed that Clarke Schmidt did not feel physically at his best during his last outing, a five-inning performance in which he allowed two runs (one earned) in a loss to the Padres last Sunday in San Diego. The right-hander typically recovers well from starts, but this time, he failed to bounce back as expected.

To address Clarke Schmidt’s absence, the Yankees have called up right-handed reliever Cody Morris from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill his spot on the 26-man roster. Meanwhile, 29-year-old right-hander Cody Poteet, who has been on the minor-league injured list, is expected to rejoin the team this weekend and take over Clarke Schmidt’s rotation spot, starting on Saturday in San Francisco. 

Poteet has been sidelined since May 19 due to a blister but impressed in a spot start for the Yankees on April 13 in Cleveland, where he pitched six innings and allowed just one earned run. His Triple-A numbers have been solid as well, with a 3-0 record and a 4.05 ERA over seven starts.


Clarke Schmidt’s injury a shock for the Yankees

Although Clarke Schmidt acknowledged that his outing against the Padres was a “grinder,” as he didn’t feel at his best physically, he initially brushed off any red flags. Boone admitted that the pitcher expressed satisfaction at being able to “put up a lot of zeroes” despite not feeling his best. However, concerns arose when he continued to experience discomfort during catch sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

With their ace sidelined, the Yankees will need to rely heavily on their pitching depth to maintain their competitive edge in the American League East.

But soon the Yankees faced a concerning development putting their breakout starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt on the 15-day injured list due to a lat strain. According to manager Aaron Boone, the MRI results prompted this move, and Schmidt is likely to be sidelined until at least mid-August or early September, if not longer.

Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt had a sticky hand check at Cincinnati on May 19, 2023, before he was allowed to pitch against the Reds.

If Clarke Schmidt’s healing progresses smoothly, he will then embark on a throwing program expected to last at least five or six weeks. However, Boone cautioned that “it’s going to be a while” before Schmidt’s return, adding, “It stinks for him. We’ll have him down, get him on the mend and hopefully get him back at some point.”

Seeking a second opinion, Clarke Schmidt traveled to Los Angeles on Thursday to consult with renowned baseball arm specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The Yankees have not released any further details regarding Schmidt’s condition.

As the Yankees grapple with injuries to key pitchers, their depth will be tested in the coming weeks.

Yankees turn to Poteet to fill rotation void

Cody Poteet is pitching for the Yankees in Game 2 of doubleheader in Cleveland on April 13, 2024.

As the Yankees grapple with the loss of their ace Clarke Schmidt due to a lat strain, they are turning to right-hander Cody Poteet to fill the void in their rotation. Poteet, who hasn’t pitched since May 19 due to a blister on his throwing hand, was initially scheduled to come off the injured list for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and start on Friday. However, plans have changed, and he will instead join the Yankees to make his first start on Saturday night in San Francisco.

To provide additional bullpen depth, the Yankees called up reliever Cody Morris from Triple-A on Thursday, though his stint on the major league roster is expected to be brief.

Poteet, 29, signed with the Yankees last winter after logging only 16 2/3 innings from 2020 to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out a season and injuries. Despite his limited recent action, Poteet impressed the Yankees during a spot start in April, allowing just one run over six innings in a win against Cleveland.

In Triple-A this season, Poteet has posted a 3-0 record with a 4.05 ERA across seven starts. His previous major league experience includes 19 games with the Marlins in 2021 and 2022, nine of which were starts, compiling a 2-4 record and a 4.45 ERA.

Manager Aaron Boone expressed confidence in Poteet’s abilities, noting his “really good changeup” and the Yankees’ excitement about acquiring him during the offseason. Boone acknowledged that Poteet is another pitcher returning from injury after missing most of last year and part of the previous season but stated that the team values his potential to contribute.

Boone mentioned Poteet’s strong outing against Cleveland, noting that even though Poteet didn’t make the team during spring training, the performance indicated he would be a valuable asset at some point. Boone expressed hope that Poteet’s contributions would continue.

As the Yankees navigate injuries to their pitching staff, they are counting on Poteet and their organizational depth to keep them afloat in the competitive American League East.

Poteet is expected to assume Clarke Schmidt’s spot until the anticipated return of ace Gerrit Cole, who is recovering from an injury. Cole recently completed his third and likely final live batting practice session in Tampa, and if his recovery continues as planned, he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment as early as next Tuesday with the Low-A Tampa Tarpons.

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