Relax, Yankees fans.
Luis Gil will be back in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Sunday in fact, Aaron Boone said Wednesday.
The rookie righthander, who dazzled in his major-league debut Tuesday night when he threw six scoreless innings in place of Gerrit Cole (he was placed on the COVID-19 IL earlier in the day, along with lefthander Jordan Montgomery) in the Yankees' 13-1 victory over the Orioles, will get his second career start in the majors Sunday afternoon against the Mariners at the Stadium.
Minutes after Tuesday’s game, the 23-year-old Gil was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but that was because the Yankees needed to protect themselves in terms of pitching. The righthander, having thrown 88 pitches, would not be available for a minimum of three days.
And because Gil took the place of a player on the COVID-19 IL, he’s eligible to return to the majors at any time rather than staying in the minors for the requisite 10 days.
Gil, though generally well-liked by opposing team scouts and considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Yankees' organization, gave no hint of the kind of performance he turned in Tuesday night.
At the time of his call-up, Gil, who started 2021 with Double-A Somerset and who before this season had not pitched above Class-A ball, was 3-0, though with a 5.64 ERA in eight starts since being promoted to Triple-A in mid-June (Gil was 1-1 with a 2.64 ERA in seven starts with Somerset before his promotion to Triple-A).
But Gil, featuring a fastball that routinely approached – and at times reached – triple digits and solid breaking stuff and an occasional changeup, came out aggressive in the strike zone and had the Orioles off-balance all night.
"We were too aggressive against a pitcher with really good stuff," said Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde, whose team managed to put just two runners in scoring position against Gil.
For Boone, in reviewing the outing a day later, the key to Gil’s effectiveness was "strike one."
"What stood out is the strike throwing," Boone said. "I think he ends up throwing 70% or so strikes (62 of his Gil’s 88 pitches). And that's what it's all about for him. The stuff is real, the fastball’s got a chance to be special. But his ability to land his secondary pitches routinely throughout the outing allowed him to be pitch efficient. You couldn't have asked for anything more than for him to go out there and give us six shutout innings. He was impressive from the first pitch of the game."
Though the stellar outing came against the Orioles, who at 38-68 entering Wednesday had the worst record in the American League, that was the same team that blasted the Yankees the night before.
Additionally, Gil, acquired in a barely noticed deal in March 2018 when the Yankees got him from the Twins in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave, wasn’t taking the place of just any pitcher – it was Cole.
The rookie received word of his promotion late Monday night from his pitching coach with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Dustin Glant, and said he "barely" slept because of the nerves and excitement.
Not that any of it showed once on the mound.
"To get the call and walk in with a smile on his face and confidence, it worked out well that it was his day to pitch, so that was nice," Boone said. "But to come in and fill in for our ace and go out and spin (it like) that was pretty cool."