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The Yankees need to do something with Clarke Schmidt

In case you didn’t realize it prior to last night, Schmidt has been on the active roster for the last two weeks.

New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

In recent days, the Yankees bullpen has taken a hit. First, Chad Green left his outing almost a week ago with forearm tightness, and on this past Sunday, our worst fears were confirmed: season-ending Tommy John surgery was in his future. Then on Sunday, it was revealed that Aroldis Chapman was dealing with an Achilles issue, and yesterday afternoon, he hit the injured list with left Achilles tendinitis. Add in the fact that Jonathan Loáisiga has given up just four fewer runs in 16.2 innings than he did in 70.2 innings all last season, and it’s clear that the Yankees need some bullpen reinforcements.

Fortunately, even with the recent injury to Luis Gil, the Yankees have a top prospect that they can recall from Triple-A, Clarke Schmidt, who... [checks notes] ... hold on a second — Schmidt has been on the big league roster this whole time?!?!

I’m kidding, I’m kidding; I already knew that Schmidt has been in the Yankees bullpen since being recalled from Scranton on May 13th, as part of my daily routine includes a visit to the Yankees’ Baseball Reference and FanGraphs Depth Charts pages. But if you’re not like me, and have to drive to work instead of taking the bus, you might not have realized that he has been on the roster until throwing a pair of innings in extras during the win last night.

Prior to that outing, Schmidt had not appeared since he threw 2.2 scoreless innings in the 3-2 loss to the White Sox on May 14th.

There’s an opportunity cost to having one of your top pitching prospects languish for a week and a half of inactivity as the last man in the major league bullpen. Normally, when you employ a top prospect who projects as a starting pitcher in the ‘pen, it’s because you think that the current performance out of the ‘pen is more valuable than developing as a starter in the minors. When he sits on the bench without coming into the game, you get the worst of both worlds. He’s not in Triple-A tinkering with his pitches, and he’s not providing any current value to the major league club. On top of that, he’s not staying stretched out, making him a less viable option when the team needs a spot starter.

This is not a situation the Yankees can afford to continue. With Gil’s injury taxing the rotation’s depth, it would behoove the Yankees to make sure that Schmidt is available to be slotted into the rotation. If they really wanted a “break glass in case of emergency” arm out there capable of giving mop-up innings, they could use tap into their small army of veteran relievers in Scranton (or if they were feeling particularly risky, hoping that Deivi García finds his old self out of the bullpen and working directly with Matt Blake).

Or, maybe, they could actually use him, and see if he can be a true relief weapon. Let’s be honest, even if the Yankees are not quite desperate for bullpen help at the moment, they certainly could use some reinforcements. The recent injuries notwithstanding, the team’s relievers have struggled a bit of late. Schmidt has shown this year he can give the team some length, going more than two innings in three of his five appearances. If he can prove that he can handle high-leverage situations, having two “relief aces” — assuming that Michael King can get back on track — would suddenly change the complexion of the bullpen.

It is in this latter role that I would employ Schmidt if I were Aaron Boone. At some point this season, the Yankees will need a sixth starter for more than a spot start. They need quality relievers now. With a 0.69 ERA, 0.769 WHIP, and .140/.225/.209 opposing slash line, Schmidt has flashed enough to show that he could be just what the Yankees need.

They just need to give him the chance.