September 27, 2022

Luis Gil to start for Yankees on Thursday as Bombers call on sixth starter following pair of weekend rainouts

Luis Gil gets the start for the Yankees on Thursday. (Adam Hunger/AP)

Luis Gil will make the start for the Yankees on Thursday to open a series against the White Sox in Chicago. The Bombers need a sixth starter because of back-to-back rainouts over the weekend, and they are currently in the midst of a streak in which they play 23 games in 22 days.

Gil made a big splash when he came up to the big leagues last season. He did not give up a run through his first three starts. He ended up making six emergency starts for the Yankees as they dealt with injuries, finishing with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 38 over 29.1 innings pitched, but also walked 19.

“The talent is obviously there. When he came up here last year, he pitched well for us, as we saw, pitching some important games for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s got off to a little bit of a slow start in AAA, but is coming off a really strong outing, probably his best outing. He’s built-up to a full starter load, so he’s at whatever you want. One hundred pitches, he can do that. And just feel like coming off the last start he had, which was probably his best work, I think he’s dealt with some cold weather things as well. . . His work’s been really good in between these last two so feel like he’s the guy to go to at this moment.”

Gil is off to a rough start in Triple-A this season. Through five starts, Gil has a 9.53 ERA. He’s struck out 25 and walked 12 in 17 innings. His last start, on May 5, Gil allowed two earned runs and struck out nine in five innings of work.

Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake said Gil’s struggles early this season were something they “wrestled with,” in making the decision, but the fact that Gil was stretched out to a full starter’s load was the deciding factor.

Clarke Schmidt, who started the season in the Yankee bullpen but was sent down when the roster was cut from 28 to 26, was also considered. Schmidt, however, is not stretched out.

THE CENTER OF IT ALL

Aaron Judge made his 10th start in center field Tuesday night. Boone likes the ability to slide the slugger there to get Giancarlo Stanton into the field and use the designated hitter spot for another player he feels could use some tie off his feet. Tuesday night, it was Josh Donaldson at DH.

The 10 starts at center field for Judge are a third of the games he’s played this season. In 2021, Judge made 21 starts in center. Prior to that, he had not played there since one start in 2018.

It’s no longer a novelty, but something that Boone is very comfortable with.

“He thinks of himself as a center fielder. I’ll tell you that much. He loves playing out there,” Boone said. “And look, the reason I’ve gone to him so many times out there in the back half of last season and this year is, one, the fact that we can get Giancarlo out there as much as I have, but the other is that he plays the position really well. So I just look at it as he’s a good baseball player. He’s a really good defender. And he’s shown that in right, and now with more extended reps in center field as well.”

Judge was a center-fielder in college.

GALLO OUT

Joey Gallo was out of the lineup Tuesday night after playing in the previous four games. Boone said it was just a good night to give him rest, despite the fact that he is hitting .333 against Blue Jays lefty Yusei Kikuchi. Boone cited the groin injury that had him missing three straight games last week as wanting to be proactive.

Gallo has had a few hits over the last week, but is still struggling to start the season. He’s slashing .183/.284/..324 with a .608 OPS with three home runs.

“I do feel like he’s started to gain a little bit of traction where he’s consistently throwing a hit out there and getting on base a little bit more,” Boone said. “Obviously  he’s hit a couple home runs now after not hitting one for a while. I feel like he’s making some steady, steady improvement, but I’m more looking at just the quality of his bats, you know, as he is he hitting pitches that he should and those kinds of things.”