BALTIMORE — The Yankees’ worst fears were confirmed Saturday, when they placed Michael King on the 60-day injured list with a fractured right elbow.
Aaron Boone said he expects King to be out for the season.
The right-hander suffered the injury throwing a pitch to Ramon Urias in the eighth inning of the Yankees’ win Friday night over the Orioles at Camden Yards. King was in New York on Saturday undergoing tests to determine if there’s any ligament damage in addition to the fracture.
General manager Brian Cashman declined to say whether King’s injury would impact his thinking with the Aug. 2 trade deadline approaching.
“We’ll continue to assess the roster, but King is a really important member of our bullpen,” Cashman said. “Ultimately, I’ve got from now until Aug. 2.”
To help replace King in the bullpen, the Yankees recalled Clarke Schmidt from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also optioned Tim Locastro to SWB and signed right-hander Shane Greene to a major league deal.
Greene, the 34-year-old right-hander who came up through the Yankees system and pitched in The Bronx in 2014, had also been pitching at SWB. He pitched one inning Saturday, giving up a two-run homer to Urias in the Yankees’ 6-3 loss.
Neither Schmidt nor Greene can replace King, whom Boone called “one of the best relievers in all of baseball.”
“He’s so good at the back end. It’s certainly a blow and one that we have to absorb,” Boone said.
Entering the season, the Yankees’ bullpen was the envy of most of the league, with a strong back end consisting of Clay Holmes, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Wandy Peralta, and the hope that Aroldis Chapman might bounce back from an ugly 2021.
And then there was depth in the form of Miguel Castro (acquired from the Mets during spring training in exchange for Joely Rodriguez), Lucas Luetge and King.
But the reality has been different—especially lately.
With King out for the season, he is joining an IL that also includes Green, who is out for the year due to Tommy John surgery and Castro, who is sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder strain.
Chapman, while healthy, he is no longer effective or reliable. And Loaisiga has not come close to replicating his dynamic 2021 season.
The Yankees are still hoping Zack Britton, who had elbow surgery last year, will return at some point down the stretch, but the lefty’s comeback was once seen as a luxury.
To the Yankees’ credit, they’ve proven to be adept at finding and developing relief pitchers — whether in under the radar trades (Holmes and Peralta), minor league deals (Luetge) or their own minor leaguers (Loaisiga and more recently Ron Marinaccio and Albert Abreu).
They’ll likely need more than a roster tweak to replace King, not to mention Green and the uncertainty surrounding Britton.