Michael King to Yankees: ‘I’m better than what you’re putting out there’

Yankees teammates greet Micheal King after his outing against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 20, 2023.
Jeremiah Dobbs
Tuesday October 10, 2023

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Pitcher Michael King is confident after his impressive performance in late-season games that earned him a return to a starting role and a division-best 1.88 ERA. He believes that it can be more enjoyable and challenging if the team signs a few players, and he can demonstrate during spring training that he is better than any other alternatives.

“I’ve always said, it’s almost more fun and more of a challenge if they do sign a couple guys and in spring training, [I’m] coming in and saying, ‘You’re going to realize that I’m better than what you’re putting out there,’ ” Michael King said to The Post. “That sounds cocky, but that’s the approach you gotta have when you’re trying to get the spot you want.”

Michael King’s claim stems from his performance

During the previous offseason, Michael King was wrapping up his recovery from a fractured right elbow and gradually getting ready for the upcoming season as a reliever. This coming winter, he will be getting ready to handle the workload of a full-time starter, as he’s expected to secure a spot in the Yankees’ rotation.

Michael King’s pitching abilities remained strong even during extended outings, meeting the Yankees’ expectations. The only remaining uncertainty revolves around whether he can handle the increased physical demands of a heavier workload.

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The pitcher conveyed his confidence in having additional reinforcement in his surgically repaired elbow. Michael King mentioned having experienced zero issues throughout the year and expressed anticipation about seeing how he and the team would handle 150-plus innings.

Naturally, plans can be altered depending on the Yankees’ approach to the offseason, particularly since they are anticipated to be in contention for Japanese star right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Nevertheless, Michael King intends to show up at spring training fully prepared to solidify his position as a starter.

Following Michael King’s impressive performance in late-season games that earned him a return to a starting role, where he achieved a 1.88 ERA with 48 strikeouts in eight starts spanning 38 ¹/₃ innings, manager Aaron Boone has confirmed his expectation that the right-hander will be a part of the rotation in the coming year.

Michael King stated that he has consistently believed that it can be more enjoyable and challenging if the team signs a few players, and during spring training, he can demonstrate that he is better than the alternatives. He acknowledged that this may come across as confident but emphasized that such an approach is necessary when striving to secure a desired role.

Michael King is ready for the big stage

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As a former minor league starter, having pitched a career-high of 161 ¹/₃ innings in 2018, and occasionally as he was making his way into the major leagues, Michael King settled into a consistent role as a valuable multi-inning reliever.

During the spring, when the Yankees faced pitching injuries, he expressed his willingness to step in, but the team declined as they were still carefully managing his recovery from the elbow injury. Then, as August rolled around, with additional injuries affecting the starting rotation and increased bullpen depth, the Yankees made the choice to provide Michael King with an opportunity to transition back into a starting role.

Pitching coach Matt Blake explained that the transition went even better than expected, emphasizing that they couldn’t predict exactly how Michael King’s pitching would fare when he returned to a starting role.

Michael King acknowledged that he understands the importance of continually demonstrating his ability. Despite pitching 104 ²/₃ innings this season, he still feels that he hasn’t fully earned the status of a starting pitcher in everyone’s eyes. He believes he won’t be recognized as one until he completes 32 starts in a season. Additionally, he might not receive the compensation of a seasoned starter just yet, although he does expect a substantial raise in his second year of arbitration.

In previous years, except for the past one, Michael King has consistently prepared for the offseason with the mindset of a starting pitcher. This approach provides him with a routine that he is comfortable with during this offseason. The only change this time is that he’s also getting married. Following his last start on October 1, he intended to take approximately a month-long break from throwing and a two-week hiatus from weightlifting before resuming his offseason training regimen.

Michael King suggested that he might work on developing an additional pitch to complement his existing repertoire, which includes a four-seam fastball, sinker, sweeper, and changeup. While he didn’t reveal the exact details of this new pitch, he preferred to keep it a secret for the time being. However, he expressed eagerness to analyze the data and figure out ways to enhance his pitching abilities.

According to King, being away from baseball for an extended period, especially during the postseason, was disappointing. He emphasized the importance of not just watching other teams play in October but also staying focused on his own development and progress.

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