King feared lost for season with elbow injury

July 23rd, 2022

BALTIMORE -- The Yankees fear that they may be without one of their top relievers for the rest of the regular season after Michael King walked off the mound with a right elbow injury in the eighth inning of a 7-6 victory over the Orioles on Friday evening at Camden Yards.

The initial read on King’s X-rays is a fractured right elbow, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. The club has not made an official announcement concerning the severity of King’s injury, but manager Aaron Boone said that the club planned to make multiple roster moves before Saturday’s game.

“He’s been one of the best pitchers in the league,” Boone said. “I hope and pray the best for King.”

King sustained the injury throwing an 0-2 slider to Ramón Urías. He winced and immediately walked toward the third-base dugout, refusing a return throw from catcher Jose Trevino. Head athletic trainer Tim Lentych briefly attended to King on the field, and Boone waved for closer Clay Holmes to enter.

“You say a quick prayer and pray for a good outcome,” Aaron Judge said. “I saw the same thing happen to [Chad Green] the last time we were here. Then to see this happen, it’s never good, especially how big of a bullpen piece he’s been for us. The work he puts in, day in, day out, to be one of our high-leverage guys -- it’s tough to see.”

Losing King for any length of time would have a significant impact on the Yankees’ bullpen. The 27-year-old had a legitimate case to make the American League All-Star team, combining with Holmes as the Bombers’ most effective relievers in the first half.

Owning a 2.29 ERA across 34 appearances, King’s 66 strikeouts in 51 innings trail only the Mets’ Edwin Díaz (75) among relievers this season.

“We’re definitely thinking about him,” Jameson Taillon said. “It was kind of a somber moment in here after the game. He’s a hard worker. I know he’ll get back here and get back to the same spot he was in. It’s never easy seeing a guy walk off the field; you think about his girlfriend and family watching. That’s not easy for anyone.”

King’s absence could mean more high-leverage innings for Aroldis Chapman, who surrendered a three-run homer to Anthony Santander in the seventh inning on Friday, a clout that necessitated King’s entry into what had been a 7-3 game. Chapman has pitched to a 5.75 ERA in 25 appearances this year.

“It’s obviously tough right now for him,” Boone said. “He’s going through a tough time and grinding, but from what we’ve seen the last three weeks, it’s in there. We’ve just got to pull it out.”

A King injury would also mean an elevation in the bullpen pecking order for right-hander Jonathan Loáisiga, who allowed one run in one inning on Friday and owns a 7.52 ERA in 22 appearances. As such, general manager Brian Cashman figures to increase his attention on relief pitching as the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline approaches.

For the moment, right-hander Ron Marinaccio appears to be on the short list of internal candidates. The rookie struck out the side in a perfect inning for Double-A Somerset on Friday on a Minor League rehab assignment, as he nears a return from right shoulder inflammation.