In a weekend filled with plenty of disappointment, perhaps the brightest spot for the Yankees in their opening series against Toronto was Michael King’s stellar outing on Sunday.
King came on in relief in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game, and had the longest outing of any Yankee pitcher so far, tossing six shutout innings and retiring the final 16 batters he faced.
“I was able to lock it in, was able to get ahead of almost everybody, throwing both sinker-cutter for strikes,” said King. “Had some pretty good changeups. I was just able to get ahead of the count, and get in dugout as fast as I can, so it was good.”
King set a goal of 100 big league innings prior to the season.
“Well he’s got six in the books, so it’s a good start for him,” said manager Aaron Boone. “Look, he’s come a long way. I feel like he, along with a few other guys, have really shown real significant improvement, and today I think proved it. He’s certainly on our board as somebody that can do a lot of things for us. … How it all adds up in the end, I don’t know, but I feel like he’s put himself in a good spot to be a real contributor.”
“Ideally, I’d love to be a starter [but] I also pride myself in being versatile,” King said. “If I’m versatile, I feel like I’m able to be used in any circumstance, and then hopefully I kind of just get the confidence of the coaches to put me in those situations.”
Sunday wasn’t the first time King has faced the likes of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio, either. Perhaps his experience against the young studs helped him out.
“I’ve faced the Blue Jays a lot, all those younger guys, in the minor leagues a lot. … We had a pretty good game plan going into it,” King said.
King struggled last year, posting a 7.76 ERA (23 earned runs/26.2 innings), but with six percent of his 2021 goal already finished, and him feeling like he’s in a good spot at the end of spring training, he has given the Yankees very good reasoning to keep him pitching ample, important innings this season.
“I was just kind of able to take the confidence I had in spring training over into the season,” King said. “I felt like I was in a pretty good spot towards the end of spring training and then was just able to execute out there on the stage.”