NEW YORK — JP Sears isn't going out of business any time soon.
In fact, he's just getting started.
The left-hander made the first start of his MLB career on Wednesday night against the Orioles and didn't disappoint, dealing for five scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the Orioles.
Sears, the Yankees' No. 23 prospect per MLB Pipeline, gave up just three hits, walking two batters while striking out five. Baltimore whiffed 10 times against Sears, struggling to hit the ball hard throughout his outing.
"You see how good his fastball is, but I thought his secondary was really competitive too, both the slider and the changeup," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the game. "Got into some trouble a couple of times, sometimes not necessarily by his own doing and he was able to make pitches."
Factoring in Sears' first taste of the big leagues last month—pitching twice before he was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after securing a spot on the Opening Day roster—the southpaw has now pitched seven shutout frames in a Yankees uniform with seven punch outs.
He's just the 20th pitcher in franchise history to toss at least five scoreless innings in his first MLB start and eighth to do so since 1993—right-handers Luis Gil, Jonathan Loáisiga and Domingo Germán each accomplished the same feat within the last several years.
Resetting the rotation, after a rainout over the weekend, Sears was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to Wednesday's game. Up to that point, the 26-year-old has been dominant in the Minors, pitching to the tune of an 0.83 ERA across six outings (21.2 innings) with the RailRiders.
On Wednesday night in the Bronx, Sears threw 84 pitches. In his six Triple-A appearances this season, the lefty never threw more than 65 pitches.
"I was nervous there because he was [at] 50 pitches through two [innings] there and you're like, 'oh man,' but he kept making pitches," Boone added. "He wasn't going probably more than 80, 85 pitches. To give us five, shutting them down and especially when he faced a little bit of adversity early was huge for us."
Struggling to keep his pitch count down through his first few innings on Wednesday night, Sears needed just four pitches in the fourth. He joked after the game that it might be his first four-pitch frame of his career.
After Sears, Ron Marinaccio, Lucas Luetge, Miguel Castro and Clay Holmes combined to throw five scoreless innings out of the bullpen, allowing just two hits along the way. Shutting the door in the ninth, Holmes recorded his fifth save of the season.
With several key contributors on the injured list in New York's bullpen—and Gil out for the rest of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery—there's a chance Sears can continue to have an impact with the big-league staff going forward.
For now, Sears is headed back to Triple-A. The lefty was optioned, along with outfielder Estevan Florial, back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre not too long after Holmes recorded the final out in the top of the ninth.
Asked about what comes next, Sears was focused on Wednesday night's performance, walking through his ability to get sharper as the ballgame progressed. He smiled, mentioning that he had family and friends in the stands, witnessing his first opportunity as a starter in pinstripes.
"I'll reflect on this one tonight and just get my body ready for the next one wherever it is, or wherever it is," he said.
- Yankees Place Giancarlo Stanton (Calf Strain) on Injured List
- Another Key Yankees Reliever Is Headed to Injured List; What it Means
- Yankees' Chad Green Opens Up About Tommy John Surgery