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Yankees Shut Down Clarke Schmidt For 4-6 Weeks

The Yankees are shutting down starter Clarke Schmidt for 4-6 weeks. Manager Aaron Boone announced the news to the New York beat before tonight’s game with the Angels (X link via Bryan Hoch of Schmidt underwent an MRI yesterday and landed on the 15-day injured list with a lat strain this afternoon.

Schmidt’s absence will extend well beyond the minimum. He’s almost certainly out through the All-Star Break at this point. There’s a good chance he doesn’t return until after the trade deadline. Even in the best case scenario where Schmidt is able to begin a throwing program in the first half of July, he’ll need multiple weeks to return to MLB readiness. He’ll go through bullpen sessions and live batting practice before heading on a minor league rehab stint that’ll likely require at least two or three starts.

It halts what had been an excellent start to the season for the South Carolina product. Schmidt has a 2.52 ERA over 11 starts, punching out more than 27% of opposing hitters. He had performed at a back-of-the-rotation level in 2023, when he allowed 4.64 earned runs per nine over 33 appearances. Schmidt was building a reasonable All-Star case, a major reason why the Yankees have an AL-best 38-19 record.

[Related: The New and Improved Clarke Schmidt]

New York’s rotation has been stellar despite losing Gerrit Cole to elbow inflammation in Spring Training. Only the Phillies have a better ERA from their starting staff than the Yankees’ 2.69 mark. New York starters also trail just Philadelphia in strikeout rate and are behind the Phils, Mariners and Royals in innings.

That’s a remarkable couple months for a team operating without the defending AL Cy Young winner. They have had essentially perfect health following Cole’s injury. Nestor CortesMarcus Stroman, Carlos Rodón, Luis Gil and Schmidt have taken all but one start. The Yankees will face some rotation uncertainty for the first time since March.

Cody Poteet took the lone other start, working six innings of one-run ball against the Guardians as part of a doubleheader on April 13. Poteet is the first choice to step into Schmidt’s rotation spot; Boone announced that the right-hander will take the ball in San Francisco on Saturday. While Poteet has been on the minor league injured list for a week because of a blister, he’s expected to be ready two days from now.

The Yankees signed Poteet to a split contract in January. The 29-year-old righty turned in decent numbers in 58 2/3 innings for the Marlins between 2021-22. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August ’22, leading Miami to cut him loose. That the Yankees gave him a 40-man roster spot was a surprise, but he’s thus far rewarded their faith with an impressive two months in Triple-A. Over seven starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he has a 4.05 ERA with a 28.1% strikeout percentage and a solid 8.1% walk rate.

Poteet may only need to hold a starting spot for a couple weeks. Cole has been throwing for more than a month and is closing in on a rehab assignment. Boone said that the six-time All-Star could head out on a minor league stint as soon as next week (relayed on X by Chris Kirschner of the Athletic). He’ll need to make multiple starts but could be back at Yankee Stadium by the latter half of June.

Schmidt’s injury doesn’t immediately look as if it’ll impact the Yankees’ approach to the deadline. By late July, New York could have a rotation of Cole, Rodón, Stroman, Cortes and Gil with a Schmidt return on the horizon. That’d be one of the strongest units in the majors. Any more injuries would test the depth, though, particularly with Gil’s 63 1/3 innings already well beyond his combined workload of 2022-23 because of May ’22 Tommy John surgery.

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