Clarke Schmidt impresses with 8 shutout innings leading Yankees to 5-0 sweep against Twins

Yankees Clarke Schmidt
Clarke Schmidt
AP Photo/Terrance Williams

Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt threw Twins’ slugger Carlos Correa a sinker on a 1-0 count Thursday night, and Trent Grisham completed the play by getting under the ball in shallow center field.

That somewhat mundane play won high praise from Yankees players, who went on to a 5-0 win in a three-game sweep. Marcus Stroman was first in line out of the dugout to greet Schmidt on his way back, while Carlos Rodon had his hand up for a high five for Schmidt, as did the rest of the Yankees.

The play, a flyout to center, might have seemed like a regular day in the office for any hurler, but it was the last out in eight shutout innings for Schmidt, the longest start of his career and arguably his most dominant.

“To go out there and do that definitely felt really good,” Schmidt said in a post-game scrum with the YES Network.

Schmidt comes in as a cornerstone of the Yankees’ starting rotation and bullpen, as the Bronx Bombers—or, their pitchers anyway—have the second-best ERA in MLB at 2.91, with Schmidt more than pulling his weight to make sure that arms are throwing strikes en route to wins.

In his last two starts, he’s gone a combined 14.2 innings, letting up only eight hits with none crossing home plate, while only walking two and fanning 14 in that same span.

He’s at a career-low ERA at 2.49 after nine starts this season and is leaning more on his cutter than last year. He has also cleaned up his sweeper and throws the knuckle curve more to knock batters off balance.

He cites his start in Baltimore, his lone loss in his 5-1 record so far, as the moment where he felt most comfortable with his sinker, as well as “being able to differentiate between the ‘strike’ breaking balls and ‘chase’ breaking balls.”

It tracks – his sinker is his put-away pitch, leading the way for him in retiring batters at 28.6%, according to Baseball Savant. His knuckle curve gets batters to swing at deceitful stuff at a whopping 34.9% whiff rate.

His off-the-field work has contributed to his growth as a pitcher as well.

“I’ve learned so much on the mental side of this game, how to navigate lineups and how to manage an outing throughout the past year and a half,” he said. “So, it’s been really good to see that progression and continue to put some work in.”