Will Luis Gil Knock a Yankees Mainstay Out of the Rotation?

After one turn through the rotation the Yankees fifth starter is pushing for a long term role
Apr 1, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil in the first inning against
Apr 1, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Luis Gil in the first inning against / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night, Luis Gil made his return on the mound of the big leagues for the first time since May 12th of 2022 after suffering from a torn UCL. The young pitcher impressed, pitching 4.2 innings allowing one hit and one earned run while striking out six on 84 pitches. The Yankees would love for Gil to become a dominant pitcher as he's under team control at a minimum cost for the years to come.

The Yankees may need to shed some salary this off-season as they'll attempt to re-sign Juan Soto while players like Clay Holmes, Gleyber Torres, and Alex Verdugo may be candidates to be re-signed. The Yankees without a Juan Soto contract extension currently rank second in the MLB in terms of payroll just behind the Mets with a payroll of $305 million. The Yankees are spending an additional $60 million due to the fact that they're over the luxury tax threshold, something they'd love to avoid in the future.

If Luis Gil continues to impress this season, he may end up sticking in the rotation after Gerrit Cole returns from injury. Upon the return of Cole, the rotation will have at minimum Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, and Marcus Stroman in it.

The Yankees won't move Carlos Rodon out of the rotation as he's making nearly $28 million this season and is under contract through 2028. Rodon will be a key piece of the Yankees success in the years to come and in his only start of 2024 he looked impressive.

The same can be said for Marcus Stroman who's making $18 million for the next two seasons. Stroman has been one of the better pitchers in the league over his career and so far there are now signs of that changing in the near future.

That leaves Nestor Cortes, Clarke Schmidt, and Luis Gil competing for the final two spots in the Yankees rotation. If Gil continues his development post-Tommy John Surgery it's hard to imagine that the Yankees would move him out of the rotation making Clarke Schmidt or Nestor Cortes the odd man out.

Nestor Cortes got the start on Opening Day, pitching five innings while giving up four earned runs with five strikeouts. The concern with Cortes is in his lack of recent success, injury history, and lack of innings pitched. In 2023, when healthy Cortes struggled pitching to a 4.97 ERA in 12 starts while in the start of 2024, his one start resulted in a 7.20 ERA. During his time with the Yankees Cortes has also dealt with rotator cuff, hamstring, and elbow injuries. A mix of his performance and injuries have caused Cortes to start more than 100 innings just once which is a concern for his future longevity.

Clarke Schmidt deals with similar concerns with his only true season of production coming from the 2023 season where he pitched 159 innings with a 4.64 ERA. Schmidt's dependability has been a plus, but the Yankees would love it if he could lower his ERA. In his first start of 2024, Schmidt pitched 5.1 innings allowing three earned runs while striking out five. The Yankees will have concerns with Schmidt in 2024 coming off 159 innings pitched as he had Tommy John surgery while pitching at South Carolina.

The Yankees may prefer Clarke Schmidt long-term as he's under team control through 2027 whereas Cortes is only under control through next season.

If one of the two starters is forced out of rotation what would be the next move? Clarke Schmidt could move to the bullpen where he recorded two saves in 2022 as Matt Blake could look to transform him like Michael King. Nestor Cortes has spent time in his career as an Oriole, Yankee, and Mariner. The Yankees could look to move one of their starters at the deadline in a trade to acquire either a high-end starter or a position player they like.

Time Will Tell With the Yankees' Rotation

The Yankees rotation has only cycled through one time giving the team plenty of time to evaluate what it'll look like upon the return of Cole. Early on, Nestor Cortes and Clarke Schmidt have shown some struggles, but against a loaded Astros team things are hard to evaluate. Luis Gil looked solid against the reigning National League champion Diamondbacks, but it was just his first start back from surgery. This "issue" only becomes an issue if Gerrit Cole returns to the Yankees rotation which would be a massive addition.

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