The Yankees were in a pickle with regards to their rotation in early August. On August 3rd, both Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery were placed on the COVID IL as part of the second of two outbreaks within the team in 2021. Besides that, they were also dealing with more traditional injuries. Corey Kluber had been out since May. Domingo Germán went on the IL with shoulder inflammation on August 1st. Luis Severino was still a while from returning after dealing with multiple setbacks while attempting to return from Tommy John surgery. They got something resembling a living human in the Andrew Heaney trade, but even besides that, they needed arms.
One of the moves on that day was to call up Luis Gil. Although he was a highly-rated prospect within the Yankees organization, he likely wouldn’t have gotten the call if not for the dire situation. In 48.2 innings in Triple-A in 2021, Gil had posted a 4.81 ERA. His main issue was control, as he walked 5.9 batter per nine innings. Yet, the Yankees needed someone, so Gil got the call.
Six games and 29.1 innings later, the Yankees appear to have a promising arm for the future.
2021 Statistics: 6 games, 29.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 4.85 xFIP, 11.7 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, 0.4 fWAR
2022 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration, still has rookie status
In his MLB debut on August 3rd, Gil threw six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and a walk to the Orioles. Five days later, he threw five more scoreless innings against the Mariners. Thanks to the 2021 roster rules, he had to to go back to the minors when the COVID IL guys returned, but he was called back up on August 17th. That day, he had yet another scoreless outing, chipping in 4.2 innings in a crucial win over the Red Sox. His scoreless run finally ended in his fourth game, but before, it became a historic start to a Yankee pitching career.
Luis Gil: 18.2 scoreless IP, the longest streak to begin a career in Yankees history.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) September 9, 2021
However, when the runs came, they came in a hurry. Gil made six starts in the bigs in 2021. The first three were the scoreless ones. In the second three, he allowed 10 earned runs in 13.2 innings. His main issue was the walks that had plagued him in the minor leagues.
His scoreless streak was snapped in a September 8th game against the Blue Jays. He really wasn’t being hit all over the park or anything that day. He only allowed one hit. It’s just that he issued seven walks in 3.1 innings. He got to two-strike counts in six of the plate appearances that ended in walks, but he just couldn’t put anyone away. In his first three starts, his BB/9 was 4.02, which is already not ideal. In the second three starts, he walked just under nine batters per nine innings.
Despite the obvious drop off after the initial three starts, there’s also plenty of reasons to still get excited about Gil. He is only 23, not to turn 24 until next June. He’s far from the first pitcher who’s struggled with control early in his MLB career. He’s got the stuff: 38 strikeouts in 29.1 innings, 90th percentile fastball spin according to Statcast. Teams weren’t exactly hitting squaring him up, either. His average exit velocity he allowed was 89.8 mph, which put him in some decent company.
He certainly still has plenty to work on, but there’s also a lot of reasons to have hope for the future in Gil. He should hardly be permanent marker-ed into the rotation for 2022, but the excitement created in his first three starts is more than understandable. If the Yankees are pressed for arms next year, they could do much worse than pushing Gil into duty yet again.