CHICAGO — Luis Gil arrived before he was ready. The 23-year-old right-hander was rushed to the majors last season before the development he needed in the minors was finished. With the Yankees going through health issues and a COVID outbreak, Gil was rushed into service — and he held his own for the most part. Gil has great potential, but is still young and working on his command and pitch mix.

Thursday night, Gil will be back. He is scheduled to start the series opener against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, because the Yankees are in another pickle. With back-to-back rainouts last weekend, the Bombers are scheduled to play 23 games in 22 days starting last Sunday. With a doubleheader, the Yankees needed a sixth starter to keep their rotation on schedule and healthy.

Gil comes up this season with some red flags.

Through five starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Gil has a 9.53 ERA. He’s struck out 25 and walked 12 in 17 innings pitched.

“He got off to a tough start. I think he was dealing with a little bit of some weather issues like some cold and is having a tough time making those kinds of adjustments, but word of his work in between his last couple of starts was really good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And then his last start was really good.”

In his last start on May 5, Gil allowed two earned runs and struck out nine in five innings of work.

“Having a guy with a pitch count that’s built up and coupled with when he came here last year, he has that experience,” Boone added. “He stepped in and he’s not over overwhelmed by being here. He knows he can do it, and certainly has the talent to do it and just felt like he was the right guy and in this moment of time.”

A scout who watched one of Gil’s starts this season agrees that the stats early this season are not really a big concern. He also added that this is still a big step for him.

“He’s had command issues,” the scout said. “It’s not that surprising, the weather’s been cold, hard to grip the ball. He’s got great talent, but he definitely needs more development.

“But not too much more.”

Gil showed he is close last season. He did not give up a run through his first three starts in the big leagues. He ended up making six emergency starts for the Yankees as they dealt with injuries and finished with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 38 over 29.1 innings pitched, but also walked 19.

“The fastball is solid,” the scout said, “he’s got good movement on it and throws hard. He just is inconsistent with it. The slider is his best pitch. It’s really good, but again he loses the strike zone with it. The changeup is where he needs the most work.

“He’s like a lot of young pitchers, he has really good stuff, he just has to figure it out. Some guys take longer than others. Some don’t figure it out. I think he will. I think the chance to pitch in [the big leagues] last year will help him.”

The Yankees weighed their need against the fact that Gil has struggled this season. Ultimately, they figured he was their best option, because he is built up to give the Yankees about 100 pitches. That not only gives the rotation a chance to stay on turn through their next scheduled off-day on May 29, but his ability to give them length helps a bullpen that will be leaned on heavily over the next 17 days.

Boone doesn’t think they will need to use a sixth starter again in this stretch.

“It’s important that you know, the starters kind of carry a load right now through this stretch and they’ve done a great job so far at the onset of it,” Boone said. “But we’ll be in a position to always make that adjustment if we feel like we need to do it and if we feel like we need to protect the guy will absolutely do that. But as of now no plans [to use a sixth starter again in this stretch].”


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