Luis Gil equals ‘professor’ Cole, registers 15th 14 K’s gem in Yankees history

Yankees' Luis Gil in action during his 14-K's game vs. the White Sox on May 18, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.
Michael Bennington
Sunday May 19, 2024

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In a remarkable display of pitching prowess, New York Yankees right-hander Luis Gil etched his name in the franchise’s record books on Saturday, setting a new single-game rookie record with 14 strikeouts in a dominant 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. His masterful performance was complemented by star outfielder Juan Soto’s offensive outburst, as he launched two home runs as part of a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate, propelling the Yankees to their sixth consecutive win.

Throughout six brilliant innings, Luis Gil’s electric arsenal, featuring a blazing fastball, sharp slider, and deceptive changeup, befuddled White Sox hitters. The young hurler allowed just one run on five hits and a walk, generating an impressive 22 swinging strikes, with 12 coming off his four-seam fastball and seven from his changeup. Luis Gil’s heater was particularly overpowering, averaging 96.9 mph and topping out at a blistering 99.7 mph.

Luis Gil’s historic achievement surpassed the previous Yankees rookie record held by Orlando Hernández, who struck out 13 batters on August 13, 1998, against the Texas Rangers. In a serendipitous twist, Hernández, affectionately known as “El Duque,” threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday’s game.

Yankees' Luis Gil before the game against the Chicago White Sox, on May 19, 2024

Remarkably, Luis Gil required only six innings to amass his 14 strikeouts, while Hernandez’s 13-strikeout performance came over 8.1 shutout innings at Yankee Stadium. Six of Luis Gil’s punchouts were the result of swinging third strikes against his upper-90s four-seamer, which manager Aaron Boone lauded as possibly the best fastball the pitcher had showcased all season.

Luis Gil’s 14 k’s masterclass for Yankees

In the aftermath of his record-setting performance, Luis Gil reflected on the effectiveness of his fastball, noting that it was particularly strong that day. He revealed that he had been diligently working on refining his fastball between starts, and the effort paid off as he was able to utilize it to great effect against the White Sox.

Right fielder Juan Soto, who had a front-row seat to watch Luis Gil’s dominance from his position, marveled at the young hurler’s ability to rack up strikeouts. He described the experience of watching the Yankees pitcher’s electric fastball, consistently clocking in at 98 and 99 mph, as incredible, emphasizing the impressive nature of his teammate’s performance.

“I was just standing out there,” Soto commented. “He was doing a great job, striking out a lot of guys. It was really nice to see a guy like that and just seeing that electric fastball. Like, 98 and 99 [mph]. Just incredible.”

Luis Gil’s mastery was on full display when he struck out seven consecutive batters, including perfect 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth. Speaking through an interpreter, he expressed his gratitude to God for the opportunity to be on the mound and shared how he had labored during the offseason to win a Yankees lineup slot.

“I thank God for giving me this opportunity to be here,” Gil said through an interpreter. “During the offseason, I did a lot of work to get myself into a good position coming into camp. I really just wanted to do the best I could for this team.”

The young right-hander’s 14 strikeouts featured a remarkable stretch in which he retired seven consecutive batters (and nine out of 10) via strikeout, starting with Paul DeJong in the fourth inning. The White Sox had their best chance to disrupt Luis Gil’s rhythm in a laborious 29-pitch first inning, during which he relied heavily on his changeup. Chicago managed to score the game’s first run on Andrew Benintendi’s check-swing double.

However, Luis Gil regained his composure, freezing Korey Lee on a third strike to strand three runners on base. As the Yankees’ offense came to life, their pitcher increasingly trusted his blazing fastball, leaving the White Sox with little chance to mount a comeback.

Catcher Jose Trevino hailed Luis Gil’s commanding performance, affirming that the young pitcher possesses the talent to achieve such feats by attacking the strike zone with all of his pitches.

“He has the stuff to do that, so it doesn’t surprise me,” Trevino said. “He’s just got to keep attacking the zone like that with everything.”

About Luis Gil’s rookie record

Yankees' Marcus Stroman welcomes Luis Gil to dugout after his his 14-K's game vs. the White Sox on May 18, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.

In the storied history of the New York Yankees, only ten pitchers had recorded 14 or more strikeouts in a single game before Luis Gil. Ron Guidry holds the franchise record, having fanned an astonishing 18 batters on June 17, 1978, against the California Angels during his Cy Young-winning season. Guidry’s remarkable campaign saw him post a 25-3 record with a 1.74 ERA, leading MLB with nine shutouts as the Yankees clinched the World Series title.

Other notable Yankees hurlers who have achieved the 14-strikeout milestone include Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, David Cone, David Wells, Al Downing, Whitey Ford, and Bob Shawkey. Gerrit Cole was the most recent Yankees pitcher to achieve 14 strikeouts. He did it on September 7, 2022.

At just 25 years old, Luis Gil has been impressive throughout his first eight starts this season, boasting a 2.51 ERA (156 ERA+) and a 1.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Interestingly, his presence in the Yankees’ starting rotation is a result of ace Gerrit Cole requiring an extended stint on the injured list, though Cole has been making progress in his recovery. Luis Gil’s dominance has been particularly noteworthy, as he has now allowed one run or fewer in four consecutive starts.

Luis Gil’s 14-strikeout performance matched the highest single-game total in the Major Leagues this season, equaling the accomplishments of the Dodgers’ Tyler Glasnow on April 9 against the Twins and the Tigers’ Jack Flaherty on April 30 against the Cardinals. This achievement places Luis Gil in select company, as he becomes just the 11th Yankee (15th time) to record at least 14 strikeouts in a single game.

Furthermore, his feat is even more remarkable when considering the historical context. Luis Gil is only the 19th pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920) to register a 14+ strikeout game within his first 16 Major League starts. The last seven pitchers to accomplish this include Stephen Strasburg, Kerry Wood, Hideo Nomo (twice), Dwight Gooden, Burt Hooton, J.R. Richard, and Nolan Ryan, placing the Yankees rookie pitcher in the company of some of the game’s most iconic arms.

Luis Gil gives credit to Cole

Yankees' ace Gerrit Cole is teaching pitcher Luis Gil at Tropicana Field on May 10, 2024.

After his record-setting performance, Luis Gil took a moment to acknowledge the significant role that teammate Gerrit Cole has played in his success. “I have a great professor in Gerrit Cole,” Gil declared to reporters through an interpreter, emphasizing the invaluable guidance he has received from the Yankees’ ace.

“We have a great professor: Gerrit Cole,” he said after his record haul. “He’s always around and always giving me pointers beyond the strategy of attack. … Certain things that he might be seeing in a certain inning. Maybe in between starts, when we’re playing catch out there. Just subtle things like that, that in the end, help you get better.”

Luis Gil elaborated on Cole’s mentorship, noting that the veteran pitcher is always present, offering insights that extend beyond mere strategic advice. He revealed that Cole would highlight specific observations he made during particular innings or catch sessions between starts, with these subtle tips ultimately contributing to his overall improvement.

It is fitting that Cole would share in the accolades alongside Luis Gil, as the injured hurler has taken on the role of an auxiliary pitching coach while recovering from a right elbow injury. His reference to Cole as “a great professor” underscores the depth of their relationship and the impact of Cole’s tutelage.

During the Yankees‘ recent series against the Rays at Tropicana Field, Cole imparted valuable knowledge to Luis Gil, focusing on refining his mechanics by more efficiently separating his hands during his windup. This seemingly minor adjustment has yielded remarkable results, with Gil going 4-0 through four May starts, boasting a minuscule 0.74 ERA and allowing just two runs over 24 1/3 innings.

Luis Gil’s rise to prominence has become one of the unexpected narratives of the Yankees’ season, especially considering his demotion to the Minor Leagues during Spring Training. The 25-year-old seized the opportunity to join the starting rotation when ace Cole was diagnosed with inflammation and edema in his right elbow, an injury from which Cole continues to recover.

Scouts eagerly reported to club decision-makers that Luis Gil’s pitching arsenal had undergone significant refinement, surpassing the organization’s expectations, especially considering his limited action over the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery. Manager Aaron Boone aptly described Gil’s impressive performance as having “kicked the door in” to secure his spot in the rotation.

Following his stellar outing on Saturday, Luis Gil now leads the team with a 2.39 ERA, accompanied by an impressive 62 strikeouts across 49 innings. His dominance has been particularly evident in his four May starts, during which he has posted a remarkable 0.74 ERA and recorded 27 strikeouts over 24.1 innings. The Yankees have thrived with Luis Gil on the mound, compiling a 7-2 record in his starts this season.

In contrast to his 2021 and 2022 fastball-slider arsenal, the Yankees pitcher has since expanded his repertoire to include a changeup.

During Saturday’s gem, Luis Gil heavily utilized his changeup to navigate a challenging 29-pitch first inning, a period in which he admittedly struggled to command his fastball. Despite allowing three hits, a walk, and a run in that opening frame, he displayed remarkable resilience, limiting the White Sox to just two baserunners over the next five innings.

Catcher Jose Trevino marveled at Luis Gil’s ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes and with authority.

“Everything that he was throwing was for strikes and with authority,” Trevino said. “There was some stuff behind it. I was checking the [velocity]. I was like, ‘Hey, how hard is he throwing? This came out pretty hard,’ but he said he felt pretty good.”

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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One thought on “Luis Gil equals ‘professor’ Cole, registers 15th 14 K’s gem in Yankees history

  1. Looks like we now might have 3 Aces in Cole, Gil, and Schmidt, based on Schmidt’s last two outings, and Rodon is inches his way back into that category. And with solid & steady Stroman & nasty Nestor augmenting that group, that’s a really impressive potential 6-man rotation.

    My only question was WTF was the reason for having a flamethrower throw 13 Changeups in inning #1? That seemed exceedingly dumb, and John Flaherty, formerly an excellent defensive catcher & current announcer, seemed as perplexed by that, as I was. Yes, Gil has a great Changeup, but he threw it 4-6 times in a row; and as Flaherty noted, a 92 mph changeup starts looking like a Bad Fastball if you see it too much.

    Flashback: Remember when many Yankee fans were Screaming for the Yankees to sign Blake Snell at a cost of $50 Million/per (something I was adamantly opposed to). Well, Snell has an 11.57 ERA, a 1.97 WHIP (whipped is more like it), and an 0-3 record. He’s basically doing what he did after his 1st Cy Young: injured & sucks.

    And since I loath missing a chance to point out Cashman’s Incompetence, I’ll note that Brainless Brian wanted to sign Snell, instead of Stroman. The fact that Brainless wanted Snell should have told every Yankee fan that Snell was going to be a disaster in 2024.

    BTW, if you didn’t see the last out in Sunday’s victory against the White Sox. DUMB*** TORRES FORGOT to cover second on the ball hit to Volpe, so Volpe had to tear over to second, touch the bag, and BARELY managed to leap over the SOX runner & avoid a possible INJURY.

    SO, ONCE AGAIN, TORRES’ STUPIDITY & CARELESSNESS COULD HAVE RESULTED IN AN INJURY TO A KEY YANKEE; this time Anthony Volpe, last time it was Aaron Judge. Who’s next on your hit list Torres? Soto? Get rid of that F-ing IDIOT before he gets a teammate injured or goes into another one of his 3 for 50 funks!

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