In the latter half of his start on Monday, Jameson Taillon felt something in his right ankle. Three days later, that “something” landed Taillon on the 10-day injured list.
Taillon suffered a partial tear of a tendon in his right ankle, which will keep him out through next Thursday, at least. Yankees manager Aaron Boone hopes his starter will only miss one turn in the rotation, but he could offer little more than “we’ll see” on that topic.
“I know when I first heard [the diagnosis] it sounds worse than it is,” Boone said. “But his body’s going to tell us what he’s able to handle.”
For now, Taillon is in a walking boot. But he is expected to shed that Friday and get back to throwing on the weekend. How comfortable he feels throwing -- and how quickly he can return to doing so from a mound -- will help determine his readiness to return to game action.
What’s known with certainty is that someone has to start on Sunday, and it won’t be Taillon. It also won’t be Gerrit Cole, who left Tuesday’s game prematurely with hamstring tightness and is on track to start either Monday or Tuesday next week.
Who, then, gets the ball on Sunday? Here’s a look at four candidates:
The most experienced starter is undoubtedly Heaney, who moved from the Angels’ rotation to the Yankees’ rotation at the Trade Deadline. But after five turns as a subpar starter in New York, he was bumped to the bullpen. The results did not improve.
Heaney has allowed six runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief, which includes the blown save and loss he took against Baltimore last weekend. Boone gave Heaney a vote of confidence Thursday, though, and described a wide range of situations Heaney could find himself working from.
“For Andrew, he’s been a little bit of a victim of some tough luck out there,” Boone said. “But he’s going to factor in, whether it’s in some kind of a starting role here soon, or bulk [relief], or even find himself in a high-leverage spot. That’s the reality of it, and he’s certainly capable of it.”
Schmidt’s candidacy is born out of convenience, at least to some extent. He last pitched for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 5, which means he’s due to throw again Saturday. If the Yankees wanted to, they could push him back a day and call him up.
In his three MLB outings, all from last season, Schmidt started one game and finished two others. He allowed five runs (7.11 ERA) in that span. On a brighter note, he has a 2.96 ERA in 27 1/3 innings across four Minor League levels this year.
Boone said Schmidt is in consideration, “whether it’s a start, whether it’s out of the ‘pen, whatever.”
King is expected to be activated Friday from the 60-day IL, which means it’s likely the Yankees use him prior to Sunday’s game. He has a 3.72 ERA in 14 games (six starts) with New York this year, and he’s built up to throw at least three innings. That was his workload this past Tuesday, when he allowed one run while striking out six at Triple-A.
In the interest of keeping options open, Boone said King “could factor in” to Sunday’s plan. But if you see him on the mound on Friday or Saturday, you’ll know that’s not happening.
All eight of García’s career MLB appearances have been starts, which includes two this season. But he last pitched on Sept. 4 at Triple-A, so it might be a bit of a stretch to think the Yankees would save him for Sunday.
García was with the Yankees as a taxi squad member for Thursday’s series finale, but Boone made it clear that García likely won’t be activated to start this weekend.
“No, not necessarily,” Boone said. “Look, especially with what we’ve been through [with injuries] of late, anything’s possible, certainly. But no, not necessarily.”