Michael King’s strong showing stands out amidst Yankees’ Bronx flop show

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Sara Molnick
Sunday September 10, 2023

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Newly anointed Yankees starter Michael King continues to demonstrate that he could be a valuable addition to the rotation next season. However, it was a small silver lining in an otherwise dismal season for the Yankees’ starting pitchers and on a day when the team’s lackluster performance resulted in the 9-2 loss to the Brewers.

Michael King equaled his personal best with nine strikeouts during Saturday’s game. He conceded four hits and issued just one walk, allowing two runs to cross the plate on what should have been a double to right field. Unfortunately, multiple defensive errors turned it into an unconventional home run.

Taking into account his five innings on Saturday, Michael King has maintained an impressive 1.08 ERA over his past four starts, consistently taking the mound every fifth day.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone commented on the strong start, noting that the pitcher continued to perform well and was progressing as he built up more experience and stamina.

Before his start against the Nationals on August 24, Michael King’s season-high pitch count was 44. Since then, he has gradually increased his pitch count by about 10 pitches per start, reaching 79 on Saturday. In his previous outing, Michael King delivered five innings of one-run ball against the Astros in Houston, securing his first win as a starting pitcher in MLB.

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Michael King puts his claim as a full-time Yankees starter

Michael King’s desire to remain in a starting role has been evident over the years, and he reiterated this interest on Saturday. The Yankees’ decision revolves around whether to utilize Michael King as a full-time starter or retain his value as a multi-inning weapon in relief.

Currently, there is one starting spot to fill in the Yankees’ rotation. Gerrit Cole and Clarke Schmidt are expected to have strong seasons, Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes will aim for bounce-back performances while staying healthy. Michael King is a potential candidate for the fifth spot, and he should have the opportunity to compete for it during spring training, especially if he continues to produce positive results. This presents a win-win situation: if King excels as a starter or is outperformed by another pitcher, he can seamlessly return to his dominant bullpen role, where he has excelled for the past three seasons.

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Aaron Judge praised Michael King’s recent performances, especially as he transitioned into the starting rotation. Judge highlighted his calm composure in high-pressure situations, whether he was brought in for one or two innings with bases loaded or when starting and commended the pitcher for his ability to command the strike zone and all his pitches.

Michael King’s transition

As Michael King transitions back to a starting role, it’s important to monitor his performance when he goes through a lineup for the third time, a situation he hasn’t encountered much due to pitch count limitations.

However, there was a glimpse of this scenario at Yankee Stadium. In the fifth inning, Michael King managed to retire the top two hitters in Milwaukee’s lineup, Sal Frelick and William Contreras. Remarkably, he struck out both of them using changeups, a pitch he had not utilized against either batter during their previous encounters in the game.

Michael King pointed out that he had developed as a pitcher in subtle ways, mentioning that he had improved his ability to command pitches even when facing batters for the third time in a game. He specifically noted that he could execute pitches he hadn’t thrown to those particular hitters before.

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