Who is Luis Gil? How Yankees rookie made himself one of MLB most surprising Cy Young candidates

The Yankees entered the 2024 season with as much rotation uncertainty as any contender in baseball.

Gerrit Cole was shut down in the spring with an elbow injury. Carlos Rodon was coming off an injury-plagued, disappointing debut campaign in the Bronx. Nestor Cortes also battled injuries and was largely a letdown in 2023. Michael King was traded to the Padres, and the team was unsure what it would be getting in Clarke Schmidt.

A lot has gone right for the Yankees so far. The team has the best record in the American League through May. Though Cole has remained out with injuries, Rodon, Cortes and Schmidt have all pitched well — though Schmidt now has an injury himself.

Oh yeah, and there’s been a rookie named Luis Gil who has been one of baseball’s best pitchers. Following his last start in May on Wednesday, Gil has an ERA of 1.99, which ranks sixth in the majors and fourth in the American League. His 79 strikeouts are ninth in baseball (fifth in the AL). No starting pitcher has allowed a lower batting average than Gil at .135.

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His numbers are even more impressive just in the month of May. He had a minuscule 0.70 ERA in six starts (38.2 innings), second only among starters to Chris Sale (0.56). His 44 strikeouts also trailed only Sale (45). His soft hit rate of 22.4 percent ranked ninth and his .109 batting average against was by far the best — Reese Olson was next at .143.

Gil is not completely out of nowhere. He has at times been considered a top prospect, though Tommy John surgery in 2022 slowed his rise to the big leagues. 

How did he ascend to being one of the best pitchers in baseball? Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Luis Gil?

Gil is a right-handed pitcher for the Yankees. He is in his first full season with the big-league team after he had a brief six-start stint in 2021 and made another start in 2022 before his season-ending injury.

He was initially signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 by the Twins with a $90,000 signing bonus. Gil spent two seasons pitching in the Dominican Summer League for Minnesota before he was traded in March 2018 to the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave. Cave spent five seasons in Minnesota, amassing 335 games and a .235/.297/.411 slash line with 33 home runs.

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Gil reached as high as Low-A in New York’s minors in 2018 and had an impressive 1.96 ERA over the course of his 12 starts. Heading into the 2019 season, Gil was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 13 prospect in the team’s system, and he continued to live up to the billing, advancing up to High-A and posting a 2.72 ERA over 20 starts, split 17 with Class A and three with High-A.

The 2020 minor-league season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though coming into the year MLB Pipeline still ranked him as the team’s No. 5 prospect. He maintained that ranking going into 2021. In seven Double-A starts, he had a 2.64 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 30.2 innings, leading to a promotion to Triple-A. Gil’s command wavered more in Triple-A with 32 walks to 67 strikeouts in 48.2 innings, leading to a 4.81 ERA.

It was still enough for him to get a call to the majors to make six starts, during which he posted an impressive 3.07 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 19 walks in 29.1 frames. However, the numbers didn’t show that while he was dominant over his first three starts, which were all scoreless, he was tagged for 10 earned runs over his final three starts, spanning 13.1 innings.

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Gil began the 2022 season back in Triple-A and was largely shelled, surrendering a 9.53 ERA over five starts (17 innings). He was still called up for a start on May 12, during which he gave up four runs in four innings to the White Sox. He was sent back down to Triple-A and made one more start that saw him hold the Worcester Red Sox to a run over 4.2 innings. However, he was diagnosed with a right elbow injury after leaving the outing early and it was later revealed he needed Tommy John surgery.

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He returned to the mound on Sept. 1, 2023, and made a pair of two-inning starts for Class-A before the end of the season. He then started the 2024 season in the big leagues for the Yankees, and has made all 11 starts.

Luis Gil scouting report

Heading into the 2023 season, Gil was rated as the Yankees’ No. 16 prospect by MLB Pipeline. The evaluation of Gil was that he featured an overpowering fastball and a slider that occasionally graded out as an above-average pitch with a changeup in which he had limited confidence. The largest concern was for his control and high walk rates, suggesting he might be better suited to be a closer in the majors.

Gil appears to be a bit different than what many expected of him the last time he pitched in the big leagues. His fastball is still his bread and butter, having been thrown 55.8 percent of the time and averaging 96.5 mph, per Baseball Savant. The fastball has 1.5 inches more drop than the average four-seamer and 2.1 less inches of break than the average heater. It has a run value of nine, and batters are hitting just .134 on the pitch with a whiff rate of 30.8 percent.

The changeup is the biggest difference for him. It is his second-most used pitch at 26.6 percent and has a run value of four. Batters have come up empty on it 26.1 percent of the time, and he uses it as his put away pitch 24.3 percent of the time. It has the lowest hard-hit rate of any of his three regular pitches at just 27.8 percent.

Gil’s slider is still a formidable weapon in his arsenal. He uses it 17.1 percent of the time and it has a run value of three, and batters are hitting just .122 off the pitch while swinging and missing at it at 36.7 percent. It is his top putaway pitch at 25.5 percent.

Gil has also added a cutter to his repertoire, though he has used it only four times (0.4 percent). It is just 1.8 mph faster than his slider.

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Per Baseball Savant, his pitching run value of 17 is the best in baseball as of May 31, his fastball rates in the 97th percentile, his slider in the 87th percentile and his changeup in the 95th percentile, giving him a dynamic array of pitches.

There are still command problems for Gil. His walk rate is in the 14th percentile at 12.4 percent, a problem that can often be compounded by his low chase rate of just 25.8 percent, which is in the 26th percentile. Though batters swing and miss at his pitches at a 30.5 percent clip (83rd percentile), the numbers suggest batters aren’t chasing pitches from Gil enough to offset his current issues missing the zone too often.

American League Cy Young odds

As things stand on May 31, Gil currently ranks 10th in AL Cy Young odds at +2500, per Bet365 odds.

Pitcher Team Odds
Tarik Skubal Tigers +190
Corbin Burnes Orioles +450
Cole Ragans Royals +1200
Luis Castillo Mariners +1200
Seth Lugo Royals +1400
Tanner Houck Red Sox +1400
Logan Gilbert Mariners +1600
Jack Flaherty Tigers +2000
Luis Gil Yankees +2500

Luis Gil stats

Year Age G IP ERA K% BB% Opp. AVG
2021 23 6 29.1 3.07 29.5% 14.7% .183
2022 24 1 4 9 26.3% 10.5% .294
2024 26 11 63.1 1.99 31.7% 12.4% .134
Career 18 96.2 2.61 30.7% 13.1% .157

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