Clarke Schmidt will make his first big-league start on Sunday in the Yankees’ regular-season finale against the Marlins.
His next big-league start could come in a postseason game.
"Sure, there’s a chance," manager Aaron Boone said on Saturday. "He’s part of our [40-man roster] and, obviously, we think he’s going to be a special pitcher in this league. Looking forward to him going out there tomorrow and hopefully setting a good tone for us in the final regular-season game. But he has all the equipment to be really good, even at this point in his career."
Schmidt, 24, allowed two inherited runners to score and was charged with two runs in 1 1/3 innings against Baltimore — turning a 3-2 lead into a 6-3 deficit — on Sept. 4 in his big-league debut. He threw a scoreless inning against Toronto three days later.
Since then, the righthander has been at the Yankees’ alternate site in Moosic, Pennsylvania, getting stretched out to start again.
"They wanted me to go down there and kind of lengthen out my innings," Schmidt said. "I got a few starts in and got back up to the five-, six-inning mark."
Asked if he hopes to impress enough to earn a postseason roster spot, Schmidt said: "One hundred percent. I think that if you have any type of competitive nature, obviously that’s going to be on your mind. I know that I can help this team, whether that’s out of the bullpen or starting. I know that I have the ability to get outs and important outs, at that. Obviously, this is a big opportunity for me. I’m excited to go out tomorrow and be able to make a lasting impression, for sure."
Gleyber Torres got the day off Saturday. He committed a throwing error, his ninth error in 39 games at shortstop, in Friday night’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to Miami. Torres’ defense has to be a concern heading into the postseason.
"I’m confident he’s going to play it well," Boone said. "He has the ability to play it well and I always feel like Gleyber has a knack for when it matters the most, playing his best baseball. Certainly, that’s what’s ahead of us."
The Yankees, who twice in the previous three games committed four errors, went into Saturday with an MLB-high 47 errors and an MLB-low .976 fielding percentage.
They committed one error on Saturday when DJ LeMahieu booted a routine grounder in the fifth.
Sanchez gets Higgy with it
Gary Sanchez, asked for the first time about the Yankees’ plan to pair Kyle Higashioka with Gerrit Cole in Tuesday’s postseason opener, said all the right things on Friday.
"I don’t focus on just who is behind the plate," Sanchez said through his interpreter. "We’re a team and it’s important for people to understand we have a team here. Bottom line is winning. I’m a soldier on this team. If my name is on the lineup, I’m going to be ready for that. If I’m not starting, I’m going to be ready on the bench for whenever the team needs me. These are decisions that are made. My responsibility is to be ready to play when the time comes."
J.A. Happ’s contract, as adjusted for the 60-game season, includes a $17 million option for 2021 that would have vested if he made 10 starts or pitched 61 1/3 innings.
Happ’s start on Friday was his ninth. He finished with a 2-2 record and 3.47 ERA in 49 1/3 innings, so the option was not reached.
Happ may end up filing a grievance that claims the Yankees manipulated his outings to keep the option from vesting. Though healthy, he made only three starts in August. On Aug. 25, he said: "It doesn’t take too much to figure out, sort of, what could be going on."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman fired back, saying Happ wasn’t pitching well enough early in the season to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
But the 37-year-old lefthander has been good since he allowed eight runs in seven innings in his first two starts. He had a 2.34 ERA in 42 1/3 innings in his final seven starts. Happ’s overall ERA is second to Cole’s 2.84 among Yankees starters.
After an outing on Friday in which he allowed three runs in five innings to the Marlins, Happ was asked if he wanted to address the vesting option situation.
"Not right now," he said. "There might be a time and place. Tonight’s not either."