NEW YORK — As Michael King warmed up in the bullpen before his seventh start of the year on Wednesday evening, the Yankees’ right-hander had already shown enough in this late-season audition for his club to consider him as a starting pitcher going into 2024.
After months of quietly campaigning for a role change, the ensuing performance left no doubt that he has been given the proper assignment. King struck out a career-high 13 batters, the most by any Yankees pitcher this season, in a 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
The right-hander had everything working, registering punchouts on his sinker (6), four-seamer (3), sweeper (3) and changeup (1) while limiting Toronto to one run on five hits in a splendid seven-inning, 101-pitch performance. The Blue Jays’ only run against King came on Bo Bichette’s infield hit in the third inning, a ball that struck King’s glove as Kevin Kiermaier trotted home.
Since joining the rotation, King has authored a 1.27 ERA, permitting just four earned runs across 28 1/3 innings with 42 strikeouts.
The Yankees mustered little against Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman, who allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings. Gausman, who is contending against the Yanks’ Gerrit Cole and others for the American League’s Cy Young Award, struck out 10 while walking three batters.
Tommy Kahnle walked four and tossed two wild pitches in an ugly eighth inning, helping Toronto extend its lead. Ian Hamilton also issued a bases-loaded walk.
The Yanks’ sole run came on Austin Wells’ first Major League homer in the bottom of the ninth.