Clarke Schmidt confident in himself, Yankees’ depth stepping up in Carlos Rodon’s absence

New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field
New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt (86) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field / Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

With Carlos Rodon beginning the regular season on the injured list due to a forearm strain, the Yankees’ starting pitching depth suddenly becomes all that much important.

Instead of one of Domingo German or Clarke Schmidt cracking the Opening Day rotation, in Frankie Montas' place, both will likely begin the season there.

While it’s certainly a big blow losing a front-line starter like Rodon, Schmidt is confident in himself and the ability in the organization’s pitching depth to step up.

“I can attest to the pitching development in this organization and say it’s one of the best, it’s the real deal. We have a lot of depth and guys that can step up and have the ability to throw strikes and get outs,” Schmidt said.

We have so many guys with great stuff in this organization. It’ll be exciting to have some young guys step up and I’m sure everybody is very well capable of doing that.”

Schmidt had another chance to show Aaron Boone and the Yankees what he can do Thursday afternoon. He made the start against the Boston Red Sox and had a bit of an up-and-down outing.

Schmidt cruised through the first inning, but then allowed a two-run homer in the top of the second. That was the only real damage against him, however, as he set Boston down in order in the the third.

He finished the day allowing just the two runs on four hits while striking out three over those three innings of work. Overall, the right-hander felt it was a pretty productive outing.

“Being on the attack is the key for me. I felt like I did a really good job of that today. One of the goals was continuing to induce weak contact and groundballs, and we got a few of those today, so I was happy with that. And the swing-and-miss was there too with the strikeouts.”

All three of Schmidt’s strikeouts this afternoon came via a new and improved cutter that he’s been working on this offseason. The right-hander is really encouraged with how the pitch has been playing so far this spring.

“I’m really excited about it,” Schmidt said. “Continuing to learn it is the big thing. For lefties, I’m learning that it definitely plays, and especially to righties too. I’m getting swing-and-misses on it. I get in on guys a lot more and I think it’s gonna open up my sinker and other pitches for me.”

While Schmidt figures to take on a bigger role than initially expected to begin the season, his mentality on the mound won’t change.

“I’m always trying to be aggressive and on the attack. I’ve always wanted to be a consistent starter in the big leagues and I always felt like that would come. For me, it’s just continuing to stay within myself, go out there and throw strikes.”