Numerous names have been mentioned, discussed, and analyzed as potential options to join the New York Yankees rotation. Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Marcus Stroman, Corbin Burnes, Jesús Luzardo, Shane Bieber, Dylan Cease … you name him, and there surely have been at least rumors.
What does this tell us? Mainly that the Yankees’ rotation is not particularly deep at the moment and they need to make moves to strengthen the unit. Right now, Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Néstor Cortés and Clarke Schmidt are the only proven starters. After that, many folks have identified Will Warren and Clayton Beeter as the most likely candidates to win the fifth starter gig should the Yanks not make any more moves (unlikely but hey, anything is possible).
There is a pitcher currently flying under the radar, one organizational arm with a considerable amount of upside, but also a ton of risk: Luis Gil.
Remember Gil? Yes, the one that posted a 3.07 ERA in six starts in the 2021 season, his first in MLB. He also struck out 38 hitters in 29.1 frames that year. Gil has a big arm, capable of pumping fastballs at 100 mph and throwing a slider that flashes plus sometimes. However, there are two things preventing him from being mentioned in the same breath as Warren and Beeter by most fans even though he has a realistic chance at fighting for and getting that fifth starter gig: health and control.
Health has been an issue for Gil more often than not. He pitched 25.2 innings between Triple-A and the majors in 2022, and just four in 2023: in May 2022, he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the rest of that campaign and most of last year. He returned late in September to pitch four frames as part of his rehab, allowing five runs with three walks and six punchouts.
Whereas strikeouts and bat-missing ability in general are a big part of who he is, the same can be said about walks. He has a horrible 14.2 percent walk rate as a major leaguer, in 33.1 innings, and the number was also around that range in the minors. Throwing strikes is still pending in Gil’s development. If he can ever improve his control at least a bit, he has considerable potential as a starter in the Bronx. If he can’t, he seems ticketed for a permanent role in the bullpen.
For now, as a starter on the 40-man roster, he will certainly receive some looks as a potential member of the rotation depending on what the Yanks end up doing in what is left of the offseason. He is young, he has MLB experience, and he is talented. It’s not easy to pencil him for a specific number of innings given that he essentially had two years off, though, and the Yanks have no idea how his arm and his body will respond.
However, he is now healthy, and should have a normal spring training. As stated, he already returned to active duty in September with a couple of tune-up outings at Single-A and had a relatively uneventful rehab process. He has a big chance to put himself in the conversation with a big February and March and is already working hard with that goal in mind:
Gil could potentially slot in as the Yankees’ fifth, sixth, or seventh starter depending on potential organizational moves. As injuries teach us year after year, it’s important to have significantly more than five starters ready to go at all times, so depth is crucial. In Gil, the Yankees have a talented depth option with potential to be more than that. Will he ever show consistency? That’s what we are all going to find out in 2024.