New Yankees pitcher Marcus Stroman, who grew up in Medford, has relied on his sinker through his first eight MLB seasons. Here's a statistical look at why. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr. (video), Jeffrey Basinger and Matthew Carpenter (graphics); Mark LaMonica (stats)

BRADENTON, Fla. — After a 78-pitch simulated game last Wednesday, Marcus Stroman declared himself “ready” for the regular season.

The Patchogue-Medford High School product more than looked it in his final Grapefruit League start of spring training on Sunday. After allowing a pair of singles in the first inning, Stroman mostly cruised through six scoreless innings in the Yankees' 1-0 victory over the Pirates at LECOM Park.

Stroman, signed to a two-year, $37 million free-agent contract in the offseason, allowed four hits and two walks. He threw  85 pitches (54 strikes) and struck out five.

His next outing will be in the third game of the regular season on Saturday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

“I felt good. I felt like my mechanics were the best they’ve been all spring, so that’s honestly what I’m happiest with,” Stroman said. “I felt the most consistent today of all my outings.”

With Gerrit Cole set to miss at least the first two months of the season with right elbow inflammation, Nestor Cortes will start Thursday’s season opener, followed by Carlos Rodon in the second game.

In Mexico City, before the Yankees’ other split-squad game, Aaron Boone announced that Luis Gil has won the fifth starter competition, besting the organization’s top pitching prospect, Will Warren, who later in the day was reassigned to minor-league camp.

Gil, 25, who was sent to minor-league camp March 3 to continue to be stretched out in preparation to start the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, put himself in contention with a dynamic outing March 11 in a split-squad game against the Phillies in Clearwater. After replacing Clayton Beeter for the bottom of the fifth inning, Gil struck out eight in 3 2/3 scoreless innings, with his fastball reaching 100 mph several times.

Two-time National League MVP Bryce Harper, one of Gil’s strikeout victims, recalled this weekend when the righthander “popped a couple of 100s against me.'' His manager, Rob Thomson, called the performance “incredible,” and Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long said Gil that day was the “best guy we faced all spring.”

Though not as dominant in the two starts that followed, Gil, who will make his 2024 debut next Monday against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, still showed enough with his fastball-slider-changeup repertoire to convince the Yankees to ride a hot hand going into the season.

“"They should have,” said one rival AL scout, assigned to the Yankees in spring training, said of the decision. That was some of the best [expletive]  I saw all spring . . . If he keeps pitching like he has, he won’t be the one to lose his rotation spot when Cole is back.”

 Stroman, whom Gil reached out to a few years ago on social media when the former was with the Blue Jays, is happy for the young pitcher, who has not appeared in the majors in two years while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“He’s electric,” Stroman said. “Plus-plus-plus heater. I think he had a pretty dominant spring. I think he was running through some really good lineups all spring, and that shows you the explosiveness of that heater. I’ve always been a fan of Gil. To see him in the rotation and healthy, it’s awesome. I think he can go out there and dominate.”

Extra bases

Trevor Bauer pitched three scoreless innings, allowing four hits and two walks with three strikeouts, as Diablos Rojos beat the Yankees, 4-3, in Mexico City. Former Yankee and Met Robinson Cano had a solo homer and an RBI single among his three hits for Diablos Rojos . . . Also in Mexico City, Boone told reporters that DJ LeMahieu, who suffered a bone bruise when he fouled a pitch off his right foot March 16, is “a long shot” to be ready for Opening Day. If the Yankees put LeMahieu on the injured list, they can backdate it if they believe he won’t need the full 10 days, which would mean he would miss only a handful of games. Unless the Yankees make a move to bring in another utility infielder — they are still exploring the market in that regard — Oswaldo Cabrera is likely to start at third in LeMahieu’s absence . . . Don’t be shocked if the Yankees bring in some depth at first base. With LeMahieu out, that role  currently is filled by Cabrera, who played three games at first base in 2022 and one in 2023 . . . Reliever Nick Burdi, a non-roster invitee who has impressed  the Yankees and rival scouts throughout spring training, threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Pirates on Sunday and seems a lock to be in the bullpen on Opening Day . . . It hasn’t yet been determined, but no one should be surprised if rookie Austin Wells, who started at DH on Sunday and has had a standout spring training offensively and defensively, is the Opening Day catcher, even with the Astros throwing lefty Framber Valdez.

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