Prior to Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader against the Orioles, the Yankees activated top pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt. With Deivi Garcia laboring in the fifth, manager Aaron Boone called on the 24-year-old to try to put out the fire.
The Yankees led 3-2, but Garcia left with runners on first and second and two outs. Placed in a role unfamiliar to the 24-year-old right-hander, whose 25 of 27 minor league appearances have been as a starter, Schmidt struggled to get the final out of the inning, allowing the two inherited runners to score, as well as two more charged to him.
“As a starting pitcher, that's a tough first big league assignment,” Boone said. I thought he came in and did a good job of spinning his breaking ball right away. The breaking ball was maybe a little too up, but generated some weak contact from Mountcastle that was just out of the reach of [Tyler Wade] and then they scored a few runs off him. Not an ideal situation to bring him in, but generated by need, and I'm glad he got one under his belt.”
“To be honest, I wasn't really nervous,” Schmidt said of his debut. “I was more just amped up. I was actually surprised about it. I didn't feel any type of churning in my gut, any type of doubt or anything like that. I was just amped up. I was ready to go. Sometimes in a situation like that, you can be too amped up sometimes, and I felt like that was the case tonight.”
Schmidt’s lack of nerves was not a surprise to his manager, who took note of the South Carolina product’s makeup in Spring Training and Summer Camp.
“Clarke's got a lot of confidence and a lot of belief in his ability once he gets on the mound,” Boone said. “I wasn't too worried about that part of him. In between games when we made the decision we were going with him, we told him quick and he was ready to go and excited. I wasn't worried about him from a psyche standpoint, and I thought he was good in that regard.”
Schmidt conceded that coming into the game as a reliever was a bit different for him, but would not use that as an excuse for his shaky debut.
“I wanted to get out there, I really, really did,” Schmidt said. “I wanted that situation. Yeah, it's a tough spot, especially for a starter, but I need to do a better job. They had a couple of tough hits, but a couple of two-seamers caught too much of the plate. I thought the breaking ball to Mountcastle was where I wanted it. But I really wanted that moment, and I was ready for it.“