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New York Yankees reliever Michael King is reportedly expected to miss the remainder of the 2022 season.
According to ESPN, King suffered a fractured throwing elbow in Friday’s 7-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles, prompting manager Aaron Boone to lift him in the eighth inning after he had initially entered the game in the seventh inning in relief of Aroldis Chapman.
The Yankees have yet to make an official announcement regarding King’s status, but Boone was clearly concerned after the game, saying: “He’s been one of the best pitchers in the league. I hope and pray the best for King.”
Prior to the injury, King had been a key piece of the Yankees’ bullpen and one of the best relievers in baseball this season.
The 27-year-old righty appeared in 34 games this season, going 6-3 with a 2.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 51 innings, giving him a strong case for an All-Star selection even though he wasn’t chosen.
Save for the 2019 season, which saw him pitch in only one game for the Yankees, King has posted career bests across the board this season, and he has arguably been New York’s most important reliever along with closer Clay Holmes.
In 2020 and 2021, the Yankees deployed King as a hybrid starter and reliever, and the results were mixed. He posted a 7.76 ERA in nine appearances in 2020 before settling in last season with a 3.55 ERA in 22 outings.
King has been a versatile weapon for Boone due to his ability to pitch in many different situations, including giving him multiple innings out of the ‘pen when needed.
The Yankees are third in Major League Baseball in team ERA this season at 3.16, and their bullpen has played a pivotal role in that and the team’s MLB-best 65-30 record.
If King does miss the remainder of the season, he will leave huge shoes to fill in a Yankees bullpen that already experienced another big loss earlier this season when Chad Green was lost for the year.
Jonathan Loaisiga was recently activated off the injured list and is likely to play a bigger role moving forward, while Domingo German was activated this week. He started in place of the injured Luis Severino against the Houston Astros on Thursday, but he could move into a role similar to the one vacated by King when Severino returns.
Lefties Lucas Luetge and Wandy Peralta will be leaned on even more heavily, as will righty Albert Abreu, plus the Yankees will likely hope for their former closer Chapman to find his way amid a rough season.
The loss of King potentially increases the sense of urgency to get Zack Britton back as well. The two-time All-Star has missed the entire season thus far while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but there is hope he could be back as early as August.