Blake sees Michael King’s place among the Yankees’ rotation guys

Michael King reacts after striking out 13 Toronto batters over seven innings at Yankee Stadium on 20 September 2023.
Sara Molnick
Tuesday October 3, 2023

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With the Yankees rotation falling short of carrying forward its title aspirations, a change is imminent. Michael King, following his exceptional performance given a short stint as the Yankees starter, has emerged as a strong contender to join it.

This has led to Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake voicing his support for Michael King as the most suitable for transition to the Yankees rotation in the upcoming season.

“I’m excited to see what King looks like over the course of a full season,” Blake told NJ Advance Media. “He’s put on such a strong run down the stretch and I think everyone should be excited about that as a possibility for him to really to be a strong front of rotation type guy with Gerrit and Carlos coming back next year, and Nestor. I think he’ll be right in the thick of it with those guys.”

Michael King emerges as Yankees rotation guy

Ever since Michael King switched from being a relief pitcher to a starting pitcher in late August, he has become the top pitcher in the American League. He completed his rotation role this season with a 1.88 ERA in 39 innings spread over eight starts. It ranks him in the top five among all MLB pitchers who had thrown more than 30 innings during that time frame.

Michael King’s recent performance has been incredibly impressive, and it has filled the Yankees with excitement about what lies ahead for him. This transition from a reliever to a starting pitcher has resolved a lingering uncertainty with the team. It’s a chance he’s been eagerly waiting for throughout his career.

Yankees starting pitcher Michael King in action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Center on Sept. 26, 2023.

Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake is excited to see what Michael King looks like over the course of a full season. According to him, the pitcher had put on such a strong run down the stretch and believed that everyone should be excited about the possibility of him becoming a strong front-of-rotation type player, especially with Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon coming back next year, along with Nestor Cortes.

The Yankees have made a firm decision regarding Michael King’s role for the upcoming season. Based on his impressive performance to finish the regular season, he is now a confirmed member of the team’s starting rotation for next spring, unless unexpected developments occur.

King looks ready for the rotation role

Manager Aaron Boone had a conversation with Michael King after removing him from his start against the Royals on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. This came after his first challenging performance in six weeks, during which he allowed a career-high three home runs.

After he was removed from the game, Michael King mentioned that Boone had conveyed this message to him. While he didn’t necessarily want to leave the game at that point, he found it encouraging to hear from his manager, whom he deeply respects. According to the pitcher, he appreciates the opportunity Boone has given him.  

Michael King will have the advantage of a longer offseason, which the Yankees are commencing on Monday. This extended break will allow him to rest and prepare for spring training, giving him a full offseason to get ready. As a result, he’ll likely be able to begin the season with a pitch count of around 100 pitches.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael King (34) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park.
Eric Canha / USA TODAY Sports

But the Yankees pitcher stated that he continues to carry a chip on his shoulder because he believes he hasn’t fully established himself as a starting pitcher yet. Michael King mentioned that he would aim to complete a full season with 32 starts, which he sees as the defining moment. Despite not ending the season as he would have liked, he feels proud of himself and his team for the effort they put in.

Currently, the Yankees have a five-man rotation consisting of Cole, Rodon, Cortes, King, and Clarke Schmidt. If Rodon and Cortes recover well from their injuries, Cole maintains his high performance as he did during his Cy Young campaign, and Schmidt and King keep improving, this could become a strong and promising group of pitchers with significant potential.

Yankees rotation probables

However, there are many uncertainties involved. Despite Blake’s confidence when discussing the pitchers for the upcoming spring camp, he recognizes that in baseball, you can never have too much pitching talent on your team. According to Blake, if a good opportunity arises, it’s always positive to see someone make a move. Blake highlighted young pitchers like Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, and Luis Gil as potential reinforcements for a frequently injured pitching staff. He’s also keeping an eye on top prospects such as Will Warren, Chase Hampton, and Drew Thorpe. Additionally, pitchers like Mitch Spence and Clayton Beeter are in consideration.

It’s important to mention that the Yankees have also expressed strong interest in Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He’s considered an ace-level talent and is expected to be made available for posting this winter by the Orix Buffaloes. General manager Brian Cashman even traveled to Japan to watch the 25-year-old pitch in person. Cashman was so impressed that he gave Yamamoto a standing ovation from his seat behind home plate after he pitched a no-hitter.

The choices in Major League Baseball’s free agent pool are somewhat restricted. One interesting possibility is the return of left-hander Jordan Montgomery to the Yankees this offseason if he’s open to it. Additionally, both Severino and Montas might return on reasonable contracts that allow them to prove themselves if the Yankees believe they can perform better in the future.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Blake sees Michael King’s place among the Yankees’ rotation guys

  1. I think the Yankees need another pitching coach and another manager hands down. If you going to make changes make changes. And boom does not manage to stack winds. When we win the first two games of the three game set or the first three games of a four game set Boone does not go for the sweep. In that last game he will consistently put a weak team on the field. On sweep day he is always giving our best lineup a day off.Let our best lineup play on all sweep days.Stop treating these guys like babies. I think we need a new manager hands down they need to play more aggressively on offense stop trying to get home runs everybody put the ball in play steal bases be aggressive we need a new manager. That’s why we need a new manager that’s the only way we’ll ever see that happen

  2. Another pitching coach? Matt Blake is the only one that did his job well. He’s helped reclamation guys like Holmes, Peralta, Cordero, Hamilton etc. The Yankee relief pitchers had the best ERA.

    The strength and conditioning guru needs to go. The team needs someone who can devote more time to the team to keep more of these guys healthy…though Cashman needs to stop acquiring all these injury prone guys.

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