Surprise Cody Poteet pick to start doubleheader hints at Yankees’ major strategic shift

Yankees select Cody Poteet to start Game 2 of doubleheader in Cleveland on April 13, 2024.

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The eagerly awaited series opener between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians was postponed on Friday due to inclement weather conditions. However, baseball enthusiasts won’t have to wait long to witness these two teams clash, as the matchup has been rescheduled as a doubleheader on Saturday.

Clarke Schmidt will take the mound for the Yankees in the first game, scheduled for a 12:10 p.m. ET start. However, due to the late notice of the doubleheader, the Yankees needed to find a spot starter for the second game, slated for 6:10 p.m. ET.

Yankees's starter Clarke Schmidt pitches against the Rockies on July 15, 2023, at Coors Field.
NYY

Initially, Luis Gil was penciled in to start the second game. However, to avoid disrupting his pitching schedule in anticipation of the upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees opted to postpone Gil’s start until Sunday.

Taking Gil’s place for the Saturday night game will be right-handed pitcher Cody Poteet. Poteet earned his call-up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’s been dominant, boasting an impressive record with an 8.1 innings pitched, 12 strikeouts, a stellar 2.16 ERA, and a WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) of only 0.60.

Yankees pitcher Luis Gil pitches against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 1, 2024.
AP

While Poteet’s call-up may be unexpected due to the late scheduling change, he’s no stranger to the Yankees organization. During Spring Training, Poteet impressed with a 1-0 record across 10.0 innings pitched. Despite allowing some hits and runs, he showcased his strikeout potential with nine Ks, suggesting he’s ready to contribute at the major league level.

Why did Yankees select Cody Poteet

The Yankees’ decision to have Cody Poteet start one game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Cleveland may seem surprising at first glance. However, it’s a strategic move that allows the team to reshuffle its pitching plans.

Poteet had an up-and-down spring, posting a 9.00 ERA over 10 innings. But he was solid for the Yankees in 2022 with a 3.86 ERA across 28 innings. More recently at Triple-A, the right-hander has a 2.16 ERA over 8.1 innings in two starts this season.

By having Poteet take the ball Saturday, it pushes Luis Gil’s next start back, keeping the rotation on its regular rest schedule. Ace Nestor Cortes is now lined up to pitch Sunday’s standalone game.

The doubleheader forces some creativity from the Yankees. They’ll need Clarke Schmidt to go deep in Game 1 to preserve the bullpen for the nightcap. Ideally, the two starters combine for around 10 innings on Saturday.

Looking ahead, the Yankees will likely need another spot starter during their upcoming six-game, five-day stretch that includes a series in Toronto. Luke Weaver could get that nod, or prospects like Clayton Beeter and Cody Morris are 40-man roster options.

Tapping Poteet indicates the Yankees weren’t quite ready to start top pitching prospect Will Warren’s service time clock, especially in potentially poor weather conditions on the road. Warren has scuffled at Triple-A so far this year with a 12.46 ERA over 4.1 innings.

While Poteet likely won’t stick around long, his 2.16 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 8.1 innings at Triple-A made him the preferred choice over Warren for now. If he can eat some innings for the Yankees on Saturday, it allows them to reshuffle their pitching staff ideally for the challenges ahead.

Cody Poteet is slated to take the field for the Yankees on Saturday.
AP

Doubleheader looms against Guardians

Mother Nature threw a curveball at the New York Yankees’ scorching start, forcing the postponement of Friday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. However, baseball aficionados can look forward to a doubleheader on Saturday to compensate for the lost contest.

The first pitch for game one is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. ET, with the nightcap following at 6:10 p.m. ET. Originally, Clarke Schmidt was penciled in to start Friday’s opener, followed by Luis Gil on Saturday. With the rainout, the Yankees’ pitching rotation faces a slight adjustment.

There are a few avenues the Yankees can navigate this situation. One option involves adding a 27th player to the roster specifically for Saturday’s twin bill. This would allow them to push Gil’s start back to Sunday, maintaining their preferred rotation order.

Another possibility is utilizing a sixth starter by Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. This approach would require the Yankees to navigate a challenging stretch of six games in five days.

A third option is deploying a bullpen game during this demanding stretch, relying heavily on their relief pitchers. However, the bullpen has already shouldered a significant workload during the Yankees’ impressive 10-3 start, so this might be a less desirable option.

Considering the need for a potential spot starter, the Yankees have options within their minor league system. Originally, Will Warren was scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night. Following him in the rotation were Clayton Beeter on Saturday and Cody Poteet on Sunday. Both Beeter and Poteet are already on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, making them readily available for a call-up if needed.

The Yankees’ management will need to carefully analyze their options and determine the best approach to navigate this unexpected doubleheader while managing the workload of their pitchers and maintaining their strong start to the season.

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