After Mets disappointment, Michael Tonkin enjoying top form with 0.89 ERA for Yankees

In two months, Michael Tonkin's ERA plunges from 5.14 to 0.89 with Yankees
Amanda Paula
Tuesday June 11, 2024

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Michael Tonkin has only been at the centre stage for a couple of months, but Yankees fans are already making him a topic of discussion. This is obviously because of his impressive ERA with the Yankees, which is a lot more impressive than when he played for the Mets. According to Fireside Yankees, his ERA was 5.14 with the Mets, but it is now a praise-worthy 0.89 with the Yankees.

The Yankees snapped up Michael Tonkin via a waiver towards the end of April, and it was all thanks to a merry-go-round sequence from two different teams. The right-hander had been selected to play for the Mets, was then picked up by the Twins, selected also by the team but soon switched back to the Mets again, and was selected to play as well. Before the start of May, Tonkin was DFA’d three times and was now with his third team in the space of two months.

At that point, nobody in the league believed there was any value left with the 34-year-old.

Boone praises Michael Tonkin

In two months, Michael Tonkin's ERA plunges from 5.14 to 0.89 with Yankees

Yankees manager Aaron Boone praised Tonkin in his weekly interview with Talkin’ Yanks, saying:

“I’ve really enjoyed him since he’s come over. He’s a competitive dude. Just give me the ball and he’s kind of fit into our room really well. He’s a bit of a character too. And obviously, he’s pitched really well for us.”

Michael Tonkin was in high spirits alongside Jose Trevino after securing Monday’s 4-2 win in Kansas City. That marked the second save of his career and also his first with his current side. It was something positive for  the 34-year-old, who is in good form of late. Before he made a move to the Yankees, he had a 6.00 ERA but is now recording much better numbers.

After Monday’s scoreless ninth inning, Michael Tonkin’s ERA saw a drop in numbers, reducing to 0.89 over 20.1 innings with the Yankees. That figure was the second-lowest for an MLB reliever with at least 20 innings pitched, since he made his Yankees debut on April 26, only behind Arizona’s Justin Martinez at 0.45.

“The first month was less than ideal, but to be here now, it’s all worth it,” Tonkin said.

Michael Tonkin surpasses his previous years in 2024

New York Yankees pitcher Michael Tonkin celebrates after the final out of the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Yankee Stadium on Friday, June 7, 2024 in New York City. The Dodgers defeated the Yankees 2-1 in 11 innings.

Michael Tonkin is now with his fourth team in seven MLB seasons. He made his debut with the Twins over a decade ago in 2013. He is well travelled, having also featured in countries like Mexico, Japan, and the Independent League. 

Last campaign with the Braves was the first time he has played in the majors since 2017, where he recorded numbers of 4.28 ERA over 80 innings. Off the pitch, he signed a lucrative one-year, $1 million deal with the Mets in the offseason but did not live up to expectations, which saw him eventually go back and forth with three different sides.

His journey has been filled with many difficult moments, but Michael Tonkin feels more at home with his new side. “It’s good to get in a groove and get comfortable, and be in a position where I feel like I’m not scared that I’m gonna get tapped on the shoulder after every game,” he said.

Despite a difficult debut campaign with the Yankees, where he allowed two unearned runs in 1.1 innings, Tonkin has since recorded scoreless outings in 12 of his next 13 appearances, earning Boone’s trust.

“He’s got guts,” Boone added. “He’s fearless out there and really competitive. He’s fit in well in that room.”

According to NY POST, Boone used Michael Tonkin on Monday because closer Clay Holmes had pitched in three of the previous four games. Tonkin issued a walk but no hits, striking out two batters, including M.J. Melendez for the final out.

Carlos Rodon secured the win for the Yankees with a brilliant performance by holding the Royals to one run over seven innings. He was quick to note Tonkin’s performance in that game, saying, “That was not a normal situation for him, and he comes up with a huge save. The biggest thing is the guy fills up the zone and is not scared to pitch, that’s for sure. A lot of confidence out of him.”

Michael Tonkin #50 of the New York Yankees and Jose Trevino #39 of the New York Yankees celebrate a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.3Michael Tonkin #50 of the New York Yankees and Jose Trevino #39 of the New York Yankees celebrate a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Michael Tonkin credits his success with the Yankees to increased slider usage and becoming more comfortable with a two-seam fastball added during spring training. He is the latest reliever to thrive under Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake.

Boone continued: “There’s no question those guys do a great job, but you also give [Tonkin] a lot of credit. It’s not like we’ve overhauled him to any big degree. He’s come in here and just taken advantage of opportunities and pitched really well.”

Michael Tonkin’s first career save in a high-leverage situation has bolstered a Yankees bullpen that entered Tuesday with a 3.07 ERA, the second-best in the American League, despite significant injuries to key players.

“It’s great to be here on this team, in this position, and be in a spot where they’ve got faith in me to get the job done,” Tonkin said.

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