Yankees reliever Michael King has a fractured throwing elbow, reports Joel Sherman in the New York Post (Twitter Links). The team will know more after further testing tonight, but Sherman adds that the club currently expects the injury to end his season. King left tonight’s outing against the Orioles with elbow soreness, and Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweeted shortly after the game ended, the Yankees prepared to replace him on the roster.
Assuming further testing confirms the initial diagnosis and timetable, the Yankees will play the rest of the season without one of the league’s top relievers. The 27-year-old has been an excellent multi-inning weapon for skipper Aaron Boone, working 51 snaps in 34 outings. King owns a sparkling 2.29 ERA with peripherals to match. He has struck out an elite 33.2% of opponents, induced ground balls at an above average clip of 47% and walked just 8% of opponents.
The disappointing news will likely add to the front office’s urgent need to add late-game picks to the mix before the Aug. 2 trade deadline, though no one they acquire can reasonably be expected to replicate King’s production. Clay Holmes remains on hand as an elite weapon, but King had been a key arm to bridge the gap between the starter and Holmes. He had largely assumed a role there Chad Green has thrived in recent seasons after the Yankees lost Green to Tommy John surgery in May.
Jonathan Loáisiga and Aroldis Chapman have been Boone’s other two primary high-leverage arms. Both hurlers have strong track records before 2022, but neither has been good this season. Loáisiga has a dreadful 7.45 ERA through 19 1/3 innings, while Chapman has an unsustainable 17.2% walk rate and a personal low 24.7% strikeout percentage. Wandy Peralta has been a reliable ground ball specialist from the left side, but the right-handed group before Holmes looks weak with Green and King out and Loáisiga struggling.
There are always a number of mid-innings relievers available at the trade deadline, and general manager Brian Cashman and his staff find themselves scouring that market over the next ten days. Old friend David Robertson and Michael Givens (Children), Michael Fulmer (tigers) and Anthony Bass (Marlins) are among the short-term veterans expected to be available, while players like Scott Barlow (Royals), Kyle Finnegan (national) and Jorge Lopez (Orioles) have longer windows of remaining bat control.
As for King, it’s no doubt a crushing blow to see his breakout season likely end early. He had been a solid swing option last year, working to a 3.55 ERA through 63 1/3 frames, but this year’s emergence was on another level. King will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season, and he is under control through the 2025 campaign.