Yankees turn to Michael King for start against Tigers

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Michael King, a key setup reliever for the New York Yankees earlier this season, might be auditioning for a future rotation role.

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The 28-year-old right-hander will be on the mound at the start when the Yankees play the second game of a three-game road series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. New York won the opener 4-1 on Monday.

King (3-5, 3.13 ERA) will be starting in his second consecutive appearance and for the third time in five outings. Each of his first 38 appearances this year, as he returned after missing the second half of the 2022 season due to elbow surgery, came in relief.

He probably won’t be around long enough to qualify for a victory, as he hasn’t pitched more than 3 2/3 innings this season.

King gave up one hit and an unearned run in 2 2/3 innings while serving as the Yankees‘ opener against the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

“Anytime you can add another starter to the mix as a real option, that’s intriguing,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “He has the pitch mix and arsenal to be able to do it if he can sustain his stuff throughout that time. … He has a starter’s repertoire, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was able to do it.”

King threw a season-high 50 pitches against Washington. He was strictly used as a reliever last season but made a combined 10 starts in 2020 and 2021.

“I think either way we go (starting or relieving), we’ll try and be smart as far what volume he can handle,” Boone said. “As a starting pitcher, it’s not so much more or less, it’s the regularity and the routine of the things that allows you to recover and bounce back. We’ve been disciplined all year with him.”

In three career appearances (one start) against the Tigers, King is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

His mound opponent on Tuesday, left-hander Tarik Skubal, has had an abbreviated 2022 season. Skubal (3-2, 4.06 ERA) has made nine starts since returning in early July after recovering from flexor tendon surgery.

Skubal has struggled to put together two solid outings in a row, and he has allowed four or more earned runs in four of his past seven starts. That includes his latest outing, when he gave up four runs and six hits in six innings during a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

Skubal was struck on his thigh by a line drive during the fourth inning but managed to stay in the game.

“I just couldn’t feel my leg,” Skubal said. “Just that initial shock wave that kind of gets into it. I didn’t feel great about it when I was first lying there. But as I calmed down, I realized I would be OK.”

Skubal retired the final seven batters he faced.

“As a starting pitcher, you only get to play once every five days,” he said. “So, when you’re in that moment, you don’t want anything to take away from your time to go out and play. It would take a lot for me not to go out there and compete. I never thought I was going to come out of that game.”

Skubal is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees, both in 2021. He will try to help the Tigers end a three-game skid, and to do so, he likely will have to quiet Aaron Judge.

The New York slugger missed nearly two months due to a toe injury, but his home run stroke hasn’t suffered. He hit his ninth long ball of the month on Monday.

Judge has 29 homers in 77 games (one every 2.65 games), nearly the same pace he set last season during his American League-record 62-homer season, achieved in 157 games (one every 2.53 games).

—Field Level Media

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