Yankees ‘Savior’ Cy Young Candidate Predicted for Surprise Demotion

Yankees pitcher Luis Gil

Getty Yankees pitcher Luis Gil

The Yankees have not just had great starting pitching staff here in the early chunk of the 2024 season, they have had an elite staff. All told, the team’s starters are 23-11 after Luis Gil’s one-hit masterpiece on Thursday afternoon against the Mariners, with an ERA that dropped to 2.85, No. 3 in all of baseball. They rank No. 2 in batting average allowed by a starting staff (.214) and No. 5 in WHIP (1.14).

Especially remarkable, isn’t it, to remember that the Yankees’ pitching sky appeared to be falling just two months ago, when ace and reigning Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole landed on the injured list with nerve inflammation in his elbow? Cole was shut down in Spring Training and it looked like it would be May, at the earliest, that he would return.

Instead, Cole is now saying that June is looking good for his season debut. At the very least, he was not ruling it out. Which gives Yankees manager Aaron Boone an unexpected problem: He will have one too many starters, with Cole joining a rotation that has all five members performing at a high level.

Which begs the question, as was raised on MLB Tonight on the MLB Network this week: When Cole comes back, who goes to the bullpen?

Yankees Will Have an Enviable Problem — Too Many Pitchers

Veteran analyst and veteran player Harold Reynolds took a stab at the answer and said that, after an adjustment period with a six-man rotation, he is predicting Gil lands in the bullpen.


Gil? He is only 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA this far, and 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings, No. 4 in baseball. He’s merely posted a WHIP of 1.01, while surrendering a batting average of .143, best in the league.  He’s also, along with Clarke Schmidt, the best chance the Yankees have at keeping the Cy Young in the team’s possession.

Gil is ranked No. 11 by Fan Duel with plus-4,000 odds on winning the Cy Young. Draft Kings also has Gil 11th for the award. But that was before Gil went 6.1 innings with eight strikeouts and one hit allowed against the Mariners on Thursday.

In a Joel Sherman column, the New York Post said via headline, “Luis Gil has been a Yankees savior as Gerrit Cole’s replacement.”

Still, Reynolds said he foresees Gil going to the pen:

“I think they go six-man rotation until Gerrit Cole is really, fully, 100%, going deep in games. One of the others things, if you notice, they have had a philosophy of pitching deeper in games, their starting pitching. So, and then, if they have a five-man, I think Gil goes to the bullpen.”

Luis Gil Tough to Demote

Certainly, at 26 years old and with just seven career games under his belt before this season, it makes sense to want to limit Gil’s potential for injury. He did spend all of 2023 sidelined after having Tommy John surgery to end his 2022 season. But the Yankees have been letting Gil roll, and he’s rewarded them by being one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Little was expected of Gil entering the season. That’s the primary reason he’d be considered a top choice to leave the rotation when Cole returns. Still, if he is not quite a Top 10 Cy Young candidate, he is definitely a potential Rookie of the Year winner, and now ranks No. 3 on the list of ROY favorites at Fan Duel.

If not Gil, though, then who? Cole is a starter, and the team will keep Stroman and Schmidt in the rotation, certainly. Reynolds’ MLB Network colleague Chris Young said he’d pick lefty Nestor Cortes, who does have the highest ERA among Yankees starters.

At 3.29. Cortes also leads the team with 4.20 strikeouts per walk this year, and is 21st in baseball overall.

“If you have the type of rapport within this clubhouse that I feel Aaron Boone has, I think you can have these honest conversations with these guys. But if somebody has to go, I think Cortes goes to the pen,” Young said.

“Or your can just go piggyback, you piggyback Gil and Schmidt. Don’t take Gil out of it. I understand he didn’t pitch last year, but they don’t make it seem like they have him on an innings limit.”

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