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New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals: Clarke Schmidt vs. Alec Marsh

The Yankees return to the Bronx looking to reverse their fortunes after starting their second half with a dismal road trip.

Clark Schmidt against the Rockies in his last outing.
Clark Schmidt against the Rockies in his last outing.
Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The Yankees’ season reached a nadir Wednesday night. With their second half off to a 1-5 start (including two particularly brutal extra-inning debacles), the Bombers dropped to 50-47, only three games over .500 for the first time since May 11th. To make matters worse, their 7-3 loss to the Angels that night nearly enabled the Halos to leapfrog them in the Wild Card standings. Even one game ahead of Los Angeles, they’re still four games out of a playoff spot; the only race they’re winning at the moment is to the bottom of the AL East.

Needless to say, the Yanks are in need of a palette cleanser. Thankfully, a home (where they’re 28-23 this year) series against the lowly 28-70 Royals should provide just that. And while the Yankees have been running in circles since mid-May, Clarke Schmidt, who’ll be on the hill tonight, has been continuously improving. Since a seven-run blowup against the Rays on May 14th, the young right-hander has pitched to a 2.83 ERA/3.88 FIP across 54 innings. In fact, his lone start of the second half propelled the Yankees to their only win since the break. The righty can chalk his success up to an improved cutter: the pitch has saved him 5.2 runs since May 14th after costing him 7.3 prior, and it’s come with some added break (1.2 inches each of cut and drop).

Schmidt will oppose rookie Alec Marsh, who’ll be making just his fourth major-league start. Thus far, the youngster has demonstrated swing-and-miss stuff, striking out 31.8 percent (league average is 22.7) of the hitters he’s faced. That’s not too out of the ordinary in comparison to his minor-league track record, but neither is his 12.1-percent walk rate (league average is 8.6); he’s only ever posted a mark below 10 percent in rookie ball all the way back in 2019. If Sean Casey has his way, the Yankees will “grind out” at-bats against Marsh in an effort to coax a mistake or a base on balls.

Speaking of tough at-bats, Oswald Peraza, who went 1-for-1 with four walks and saw 34 pitches on Monday night before fanning seven times over the next couple games, gets his fourth straight leadoff assignment. However, tonight he’ll move over to second base; Gleyber Torres will assume the DH role, and he’ll swap places with Rizzo, hitting third for just the second time in 16 games while the first baseman takes a crack at the two-hole in desperation of ending his power outage. Giancarlo Stanton, who’s already upped his home run total by 33 percent since the second half started, will hit cleanup and man right field after DHing for three of the past four games.

DJ LeMahieu will take over third base in Peraza’s place, and he’ll hit sixth. Harrison Bader remains out of the lineup with a rib contusion, though he’s reportedly available off the bench; Billy McKinney will take his spot in center field, hitting eighth. Rounding things out and handling the catching duties will be Kyle Higashioka; the Yankees announced today that Jose Trevino will undergo season-ending surgery, so Higashioka figures to handle the lion’s share of reps going forward. Ben Rortvedt, who was recalled in a corresponding move, will likely back him up.

Schmidt should have no trouble with a Royals’ lineup lacking a single starter with a wRC+ above the league-average 100 mark. Yet, perhaps the Yankees will have their eyes on Salvador Perez, the Royals’ veteran catcher hitting third, whom at least one team has already checked in on. Also of note, youngsters Maikel Garcia and Bobby Witt Jr. will hit first and second, respectively, manning one of the best defensive left sides of an infield in the majors. They also sport 41 stolen bases between them.

How to watch

Location: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, New York

First pitch: 7:05 pm ET

TV broadcast: YES Network – NYY / Bally Sports KC - KC

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1280

Online stream: MLB.tv

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