Luis Gil fires up Yankees to historic milestone, evokes comparison with ace Cole

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil throws during the second inning of the baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium Thursday, May 23, 2024, in New York.

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Luis Gil fired 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight in the Yankees’ 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. It was the 11th straight game a Yankees starter went at least five innings while giving up two runs or fewer, a franchise record.

Such a stretch had never before occurred in the Yankees’ storied 121-season history dating back to 1903. The 25-year-old pitcher has now won five consecutive starts, with a microscopic 0.59 ERA over his last 30 2/3 innings pitched. Luis Gil has surrendered just two earned runs on 12 hits during that span.  

As a recognition of his feat, the Bronx crowd of 43,117 rose to its feet with thunderous applause when Luis Gil strutted off the Yankee Stadium mound in the seventh inning. The right-hander from Venezuela doffed his cap high overhead to acknowledge the ovation.

Luis Gil’s latest gem came on the heels of his career-best 14-strikeout performance five days earlier against the Baltimore Orioles. His dominating two-start stretch has been symbolic of the Yankees‘ stellar rotation work of late.

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil throws during the second inning of the baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium Thursday, May 23, 2024, in New York.

New York starters have been nearly untouchable, helping propel the team to a major league-best 35-15 record. With Luis Gil leading the way Thursday, the Yankees took three of four from Seattle in the teams’ series at Yankee Stadium.

In that span, Luis Gil has racked up 35 strikeouts while yielding only 12 hits – a combination never before achieved by a Yankees pitcher over a five-game stretch, according to research by statistician Katie Sharp. His 0.59 ERA since May 1 leads all major league starters. Opposing hitters are batting a microscopic .143 against him, the lowest mark for any qualified pitcher this season.

On Thursday against Seattle, Luis Gil surrendered just one infield single to Anthony Volpe at shortstop in the fourth inning. That was one of only three Mariners to reach base while the Venezuelan was on the mound over 6 1/3 scoreless frames.

Thrust into the Yankees’ injury-depleted rotation, Luis Gil has shined in place of ace Gerrit Cole. The surprising breakout has Gil ranked among MLB’s top 10 in ERA (2.11) and strikeouts (70). His historic run over the last month has propelled the Yankees to a major league-best 35-15 record. New York took three of four from Seattle behind his latest gem.

Luis Gil sparks Gerrit Cole comparison

With ace Gerrit Cole sidelined by elbow inflammation, rookie Luis Gil has emerged as one of baseball’s top pitchers while filling in for the Yankees. According to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, the team believes his fastball profile is reminiscent of the reigning AL Cy Young winner Cole.

Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake told The Athletic that while Luis Gil may not quite match Cole’s fastball command, the rookie gets more uncomfortable swings due to inconsistency in the pitch’s movement. Blake said Luis Gil is an athletic, physical righty whose riding fastball gets on hitters quickly, allowing him to be effective even when batters are geared up for the heater.

The coach noted that some “effective wildness” with Luis Gil’s premier pitch creates awkward swings for opponents. Blake compared the two fastballs, saying “Gerrit obviously commands it to areas a little bit better,” but the pitcher is “capable of throwing it when you’re looking for it and he’s still having positive results.”

Kirschner also reported that former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long informed the organization that Luis Gil’s overall stuff was the best they faced from any opposing pitcher during Long’s tenure.

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Luis Gil has starred in the Yankees’ injury-depleted rotation, pitching to a 2.39 ERA with a 5-1 record and 62 strikeouts over nine starts this season. The 25-year-old right-hander signed with the Minnesota Twins as an international free agent in 2015 before being traded to New York in 2018. He made his major league debut for the Yankees in 2021, appearing in six games, and added one start in 2022.

According to teammate Gerrit Cole, Luis Gil’s aptitude to quickly make adjustments is as impressive as the rookie’s overpowering stuff. Cole lauded the rookie’s “high-end” arsenal and praised his ability to absorb coaching, which the veteran ace says is repeatedly evident.  

Cole explained that his main points of emphasis with Luis Gil have centered around attacking the strike zone boldly with his premium fastball instead of trying to be too fine. He has urged the young hurler to get ahead with strike one, avoid problematic 2-1 counts, and maintain composure when his command wavers by taking a deep breath to reset his mechanics. Above all, Cole stressed the importance of Luis Gil never letting up his fierce competitive fire on the mound.

“The stuff is high end and he has a pretty high aptitude,” Cole said of Gil. “He’s really good at making adjustments quickly.”

After setting a Yankees rookie record with 14 strikeouts against the White Sox last weekend, Luis Gil referred to Cole as his “professor,” underscoring the mentorship role the ace has taken. In a lengthy dissertation on molding Gil, Cole made clear the rookie’s propensity to implement advice swiftly has been critical to his rapid development.

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