Michael King Can Become A Premier Starter For The Yankees
The Yankees are prioritizing DJ LeMahieu this offseason (rightfully so I tried to tell you what’s up). If LeMahieu returns, New York is banking on the incumbents to step up and become reliable starters in the 2021 rotation. Look no further than Michael King who should be able to step right in and fill in without a hitch.
In the past, I worked for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the clubhouse. Two and three years ago, I watched a lot of AAA baseball. NOBODY was filthier than Michael King. That’s just a fact. If Brian Cashman called me, I’m including King in every trade package.
In six starts in AAA 2018, King tossed a 1.15 ERA. Nobody could touch him. King struck out 31 batters in 39 innings. At that point, I had seen enough. This was someone that could make an impact at the big-league level.
King later got hurt in 2019 and suffered a rough year. During his 2020 MLB debut, King got shelled giving up 23 runs in 26 innings. I don’t care. I know what I saw at the AAA level. King can pitch his ass off. Maybe some minor tweaks were needed but the talent was there.
One of the biggest things I noticed when watching King at the minor league level was the way he was able to fool hitters. When professional hitters look bad, there’s a reason. Even in a down year in his MLB debut, King posted an opposing exit velocity in the 73rd percentile and hard-hit percentage in the 82nd percentile.
I don’t believe King is untalented. He just had a couple of rough outings when making his big league debut. Apparently in the offseason, King has been working with Sam Briend to refine his changeup and scrap his slider for a curveball.
There’s a lot of room for King to grow. Even in a down year, King posted an opposing batting average of .179 against his curveball. The guy has filthy stuff. Mixing with the speeds of his changeup will also do the former Boston College product wonders as professional hitters have likely picked up on the fact that the speeds aren’t quite different enough.
Masahiro Tanka and James Paxton could become afterthoughts this offseason. The emergence of someone like Michael King could be a breaking point for the franchise. If New York is going to throw anyone into the fire over a full season, it’s someone like King. The right-handed starter is ready for the bright lights.