Yankees reliever Michael King has a fracture in his throwing elbow, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). The team will know more after further testing tonight, but Sherman adds the club currently anticipates the injury will end his season. King departed tonight’s outing against the Orioles with elbow pain, and Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweeted shortly after the game ended the Yankees were preparing to replace him on the roster.
Assuming further testing confirms the initial diagnosis and timetable, the Yankees will play the remainder of the season without one of the league’s best relievers. The 27-year-old has been an excellent multi-inning weapon for skipper Aaron Boone, working 51 frames across 34 outings. King owns a sparkling 2.29 ERA with the peripherals to match. He’s punched out an elite 33.2% of opposing hitters, induced ground-balls at an above-average 47% clip and only walked 8% of opponents.
The disappointing news will likely increase the front office’s urgency to add to the late-game mix before the August 2 trade deadline, although no one they acquire could reasonably be expected to replicate King’s production. Clay Holmes remains on hand as an elite weapon, but King had been a pivotal arm to bridge the gap between the starters and Holmes. He’d mostly assumed a role in which Chad Green has thrived for the past few seasons after the Yankees lost Green to Tommy John surgery in May.
Jonathan Loáisiga and Aroldis Chapman have been Boone’s two other primary high-leverage arms. Both hurlers have strong pre-2022 track records, but neither has been good this season. Loáisiga has a dreadful 7.45 ERA through 19 1/3 innings, while Chapman has an untenable 17.2% walk rate and a personal-low 24.7% strikeout percentage. Wandy Peralta has been a reliable ground-ball specialist from the left side, but the right-handed group prior to Holmes looks lackluster with Green and King out and Loáisiga struggling.
There are always a host of middle innings relievers available at the trade deadline, and general manager Brian Cashman and his staff figure to scour that market over the next ten days. Old friend David Robertson and Mychal Givens (Cubs), Michael Fulmer (Tigers) and Anthony Bass (Marlins) are among the shorter-term veterans who figure to be available, while players like Scott Barlow (Royals), Kyle Finnegan (Nationals) and Jorge López (Orioles) have longer windows of remaining club control.
As for King, it’s no doubt a crushing blow to see his breakout season likely come to a close early. He’d been a solid swing option last year, working to a 3.55 ERA through 63 1/3 frames, but this year’s emergence was on a different level. King will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season, and he’s under control through the 2025 campaign.