The New York Yankees had the misfortune to lose a major cog of their bullpen Friday night: setup man Michael King. The 27-year-old righty, who was having a breakout season alongside closer Clay Holmes, suffered a fractured elbow while pitching against the Baltimore Orioles. He is now out for the season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees will have to make do with middle relievers in the short term upon losing King. They will also likely consider trading for bullpen help ahead of the upcoming deadline.
Yankees Lose Michael King to Fractured Elbow
King injured his elbow while delivering a pitch to Ramon Urias. He immediately felt discomfort after the pitch, and dejectedly walked off the mound. It is an enormous loss for the Yankees’ bullpen. King struggled during his rookie year in 2020, and somewhat improved last season. This year, however, he took an enormous step forward with dominant numbers. In 34 appearances, he pitched 51 innings with a 2.29 ERA, a 1.000 WHIP, 66 strikeouts, and a 1.9 WAR. The last figure matches that of Clay Holmes, who is having a dream season as the Bombers’ closer. This shows just how indispensable King has been, and how much it hurts to lose him.
In the short term, New York can try to fill the void left by King with current roster members. Potential options include Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, and Clarke Schmidt. Additionally, they could gamble on relievers who have struggled recently, such as Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga. But with the trade deadline approaching on August 2, and the bullpen suddenly an area of need for the Yankees, it might serve them well to seek out additional relief help.
Options there include Michael Fulmer, who has been very good in middle relief for the Detroit Tigers this year, and former Yankee David Robertson, among others. Whoever the Yankees use and/or acquire to take over King’s role, they will have big shoes to fill. A reliable bullpen is a key ingredient for success once October rolls around, and the Yanks need quality arms pitching high-leverage innings like King was. His injury is a significant setback, and it will be interesting to see how the organization responds.
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