Despite an eighth-inning miss on Sunday against the Orioles, the Yankees’ pitching staff has been excellent through the first 10 games of the regular season, a fact Gerrit Cole doesn’t consider all that remarkable.
“I can’t say I’m too surprised, to be honest,” Cole said. “We’ve got a lot of good guys down there with great stuff. Some guys have picked up where they left off last year, and we’ve supplemented that with young guys who did their work for us very early on. But certainly seeing those guys pitch with their level of talent, you expect good results.”
Cole alluded to innings pitched earlier in the season by Clarke Schmidt, Ron Marinaccio and JP Sears, assignments that could decline now that starting pitchers are more developed. Cole, who starts Tuesday against the Tigers in Detroit, aims to touch the 100-pitch mark after throwing 85 on April 13 against the Blue Jays.
Though Cole has struggled early on, allowing six runs in 9 2/3 innings (5.59 ERA), his teammates have picked him up. The Yanks’ 2.53 staff ERA ranks first in the American League (fourth in the majors), and New York’s 2.08 bullpen ERA is second in the majors behind only the Rockies (1.80).
“From a starting pitcher’s perspective, we want to keep going as long as we can,” Cole said. “We want to try to push our pitch count and our games as deep as we can to keep [the relievers] as fresh as we can so they can continue to perform at their level. At the same time, from a team standpoint, I think it’s important to get on the board early so we can give those guys the lead.”
Some advanced metrics suggest that Joey Gallo has been unlucky in his first 35 plate appearances, with Statcast indicating that outfielder exit velocity (97th percentile), barreling percentage (95th percentile), and expected slugging percentage ( .612) exceed their actual production.
That said, the numbers are what they are. Gallo is slashing .138/.286/.138 in 10 games, still looking for his first extra-base hit, with 11 strikeouts to six walks. Manager Aaron Boone said he’s not ready to hit the panic button on Gallo, who hit .199 with 38 home runs and 77 RBIs in 153 games for the Rangers and Yankees last year.
“If he’s getting on base at a high level and hitting with power, then offensively, that’s success for me,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Especially when you combine that with how good of a defender he is and the things he does. I just want him to get on base and hit with power, and if he’s doing it at a high level, we’re good.”
The Yankees recalled outfielder Tim Locastro from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday and now plan to carry 13 position players against 15 pitchers through the end of the month. Boone said he doesn’t anticipate Locastro, who made an excellent diving catch in Sunday’s game, taking starts from Gallo.
“I think Timmy brings a lot of value,” Boone said. “I see him here certainly playing a big role for us, and there are probably some starts for him, but I don’t see it becoming that situation with Joey.”
King of the hill
Is there such a thing as being too valuable in the bullpen? Michael King could be experiencing it right now.
King has been stellar in a relief role, posting a 1.17 ERA in four appearances that included his first major league save. King, who turns 27 in May, said he would like to return to the rotation at some point, but understands his current role serves the team well.
“I love adrenaline, I love pressure situations,” King said. “As much as every inning is a pressure situation in the first, second and third [innings], it doesn’t seem so amplified. I wish I could still be a starter, and I’ll keep trying to develop and throw my four pitches to make sure if I ever get the opportunity again, I’ll be ready for it.”
During his major league career, King is 0-5 with a 6.52 ERA in 10 starts, allowing for an .821 OPS. Out of the bullpen, he has compiled a 3.10 ERA in 26 appearances, holding opponents to a .640 OPS.
“He certainly has an arsenal that would allow him to come back and [start] when that need arises,” Boone said. “There’s no question, he’s become a very valuable member of our bullpen. But I also don’t think we necessarily have to close the book on the front end.”