Who needs Gerrit Cole when the Yankees have Luis Gil?


Expectations are always relative but one thing that remains constant in the baseball world is expectations being sky high for the New York Yankees. With that in mind, last season was just about as close to a disaster as you can get for this franchise as they finished 82-80 and looked nearly moribund towards the end of last season. Combine that with the fact that there will soon be high schoolers who have never seen a Yankees ticker-tape parade down Broadway and suddenly it’s almost as if New York runs the risk of becoming just another team instead of the consistent and dominant force that always seemed to wind up in the World Series conversation year after year.

However, I have some good news for “long-suffering” Yankees fans: There’s some hope that your long, national nightmare might finally be coming to an end soon. While it’s a fool’s errand to predict who’s going to be lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy in any given season (especially with this current Postseason format), it’s safe to say that the Yankees should at the very least be gearing up for a run at October at the rate that they’ve been winning to kick off this season. The Yankees are 38-19, they’re looking very likely to give the Baltimore Orioles all they can handle and then some in the AL East, and could very well be in position for a Postseason bye once everything shakes out in that regard.

FanGraphs has them as the American League favorite to win World Series (14.5 percent chance of winning it, only behind the Dodgers in MLB who are sitting on a 20.3 percent chance) and also has them as runaway favorites to win the division at 69.1 percent, so happy days are here once again for the Bronx Bombers.

Naturally, a lot of the talk surrounding the Yankees and their great start would start with the obvious names like Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. Both of those guys have come out of the gates flying, as Soto has fit Yankee Stadium like a glove and Aaron Judge has stayed healthy and delivered the type of production that you would expect from him when he’s healthy. Additionally, players like Anthony Volpe, Alex Verdugo (look away, Red Sox fans) and even Giancarlo Stanton have also been getting in on the act. As a result, you can make a very strong argument that the Yankees are the best-hitting team in baseball at the moment and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change any time soon.

With that being said, I’m not here to talk about their offense. Instead, I’m here to talk about their pitching, which has also been excellent. New York’s pitching staff collectively has the lowest ERA- in baseball, though they do have to “settle” for simply having a top-10 FIP- as a staff. The fact that they’re doing this without staff ace Gerrit Cole is very impressive and also an ominous sign for the American League and the rest of baseball as well. However, who needs Gerrit Cole when the real staff ace has stepped up in his absence?

That’s right, folks: We’re talking about Luis Gil. If anybody is hoping that the month of May could’ve lasted forever, it’s likely Luis Gil because he just had an absolutely incredible month on the mound. Gil made five starts this month and pitched 38.2 innings over that stretch and gave up a grand total of three (3) runs over that same stretch. Gil capped off this magical month with what was arguably his best start of the entire run, which was an eight-inning outing that saw him only give up two hits, two walks, one run (which came on a homer) and nine strikeouts against the Angels. As a result of this heater that he’s been on, Gil has finished with an ERA- this month of 18, good for a microscopic ERA of 0.70 for May. Goodness gracious!

You’d be hard-pressed to decide between whether this was his best start in May or if the one before, his start against Los Angeles where he went 6.1 innings, struck out eight batters, walked two and gave up one hit and zero runs, was better. You could even go back to his start on May 18 against the White Sox where he went six innings and did give up five hits and a run but that was at the expense of striking out 14 Chicago batters. Luis Gil has been on an absolute heater and it’s definitely been fun to watch him blow up onto the scene like he has.

Usually this would be the time where the writer would let you in on the secret sauce that’s leading to such a breakout moment for a pitcher like Luis Gil. After all, he wasn’t exactly the hottest prospect in the Yankees organization and yet here he is, pitching in the big leagues for the first time since 2022 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and not only surviving but thriving. To be honest with you, there’s not really much of a secret here since it appears that everything is just clicking for Gil at the moment.

His 97-mph four-seamer is his go-to pitch and opponents are hitting .134 against it with an Expected Batting Average of just .181 against it. He also like to throw his 91-mph changeup (which the Yankees have been working on as an organization) a lot and that pitch only has a .148 BA against it and an xBA of .185. Then he’ll throw an 87-mph slider as well and if you thought that opposing hitters were having trouble against his other two pitches, then you haven’t seen anything yet. They’re only hitting .122 against his slider and the xBA is at just .179.

Simply put, it’s all working for Gil right now and that’s evidenced by the fact that his Baseball Savant page is looking about as red as a Chicago Bulls home playoff game.

gil

Wow.
baseballsavant.mlb.com

Once again, this has been an incredible breakout to witness so far and the circumstances surrounding it are even better since it’s obvious that Gil likely wouldn’t have even gotten the opportunity to show out like this had the Yankees come into this season with a fully healthy rotation. Instead, Gil was pressed into big league duty partly due to Gerrit Cole’s injury during spring training and has taken that opportunity and gone off to the races with it.

Again, Gil wasn’t the most highly-regarded pitching prospect in New York’s farm system heading into this season — shoot, he wasn’t even the top prospect to pitch for the Yankees this season as Clayton Beeter made his major league debut on Opening Weekend against the Astros. Gil’s upside has always been there but you would be hard-pressed to find many Yankees fans who figured that all of this was coming from the 25-year-old hurler who is still a rookie after making six starts all the way back in 2021.

You’d also be hard-pressed to find many Yankees fans who want this guy to leave the rotation once Gerrit Cole returns from injury. As impressive as Gil has been, his rotation mates have been plenty productive as well. Nestor Cortes is currently on track for a career year, Clarke Schmidt has also been very impressive, and Carlos Rodón and Marcus Stroman have done a great job of filling out the rotation as well. There will be legitimate questions about whether or not they’ll continue using Gil as a starter or if he’ll have to get relegated to the bullpen as they keep an eye on his usage rate. They could even go for a six-man rotation, which shouldn’t be completely out of the question since it has become clear that the Yankees do, in fact, have six fully capable starters on their hands at the moment.

Either way, this is a good problem for the Yankees to have and it’s been a while since they’ve had good problems like this. If you’re a Yankee-hater and you’re reading this, I applaud you on your bravery for getting this far but I have to inform you that you’re not going to be eating as good off of New York-related baseball schadenfreude as you did last season. If you want that, you’ve got to look to the team in Queens since the one in the Bronx is currently lighting it up and they’ve got Luis Gil as one of many players to thank for that.





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top