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Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt, Jhony Brito will be put to the test early

After they dealt an ace, the Yankees will play a couple wild cards.

Gerrit Cole was everything he was supposed to be during an Opening Day, shutout win over the Giants, but there is plenty of uncertainty ahead as the Yankees’ injury-ravaged rotation looks to Clarke Schmidt and Jhony Brito this weekend.

Will a couple of standouts in February and March turn into helpful pieces as April arrives?

Schmidt will get the first shot, facing off against San Francisco’s Alex Cobb on Saturday afternoon in The Bronx, where the young righty will try to show he deserved a rotation spot even before Frankie Montas, Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino went down.

Cole, who threw six scoreless innings Thursday, was supposed to pass the ball to Rodon, his $162 million new co-ace.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt, pitching in the first inning against the Braves.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Instead, the second leg of the Yankees’ long season will be run by a 27-year-old trying to establish himself in the majors.

“I thought he executed this spring really well,” Cole said of Schmidt, who was set to battle Domingo German for the No. 5 slot before the injuries boosted both to the rotation. “He came in with some uncertainty — is he fighting for a spot or is he not? I thought he approached the first few games just as well as he approached the last game. He focused on trying to throw strikes, trying to build the foundation.”

Schmidt impressed all of camp, including racking up 25 strikeouts in 19 ²/₃ Grapefruit League innings buoyed by a new weapon.

Schmidt’s cutter might have been the Yankees’ pitching discovery of the spring and adds to a deep, five-pitch repertoire that the club believes is coming together.

The young righty, a first-round pick in 2017, has shown signs of promise and posted a 3.12 ERA in 57 ²/₃ innings last season.

New York Yankees relief pitcher Jhony Brito, throwing live batting practice at Steinbrenner Field.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But his big-league work was mostly out of the bullpen, and he saw plenty of time in Triple-A.

Schmidt, who prefers to start, felt this spring training as if he were in a better position than his previous springs, and not just because he became slotted into the rotation.

“I don’t know if it’s mentally I’m just in a different place or what it is. I just feel very confident in myself and where I’m at,” Schmidt said during camp. “I’ve always said I’ve been confident, stuff like that, but it’s kind of a different feel when you have … that last year experience. Knowing what it’s like to be up there and knowing how to get guys out. Knowing what my stuff works like.”

The Yankees won’t have Montas (right shoulder surgery) until at least August, and Rodon (left forearm muscle strain) and Severino (strained right lat) for at least a few weeks.

With Nestor Cortes and German lined up at the back of the rotation, they will find out plenty about Schmidt and Brito quickly.

Brito, a 25-year-old who made 15 starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, essentially is the team’s eighth starter, yet the various health issues will make the righty the call for Game 3.

Brito beat out other depth options such as Matt Krook, Deivi Garcia and Randy Vasquez.

Brito, who was added to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, pitched to a 2.96 ERA in 112 ²/₃ Double- and Triple-A innings last season.

With 13 Grapefruit League innings in which he allowed three earned runs (2.08 ERA) — and a brilliant finale, tossing 5 ¹/₃ perfect innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday — the Dominican Republic native earned the spot and will make his major league debut.

“He’s got our attention all camp,” manager Aaron Boone said Sunday. “He’s earned a strong reputation in player development. He was very at ease doing what he was doing today. That was good to see.”

The Yankees will see more quickly and find out about pitchers whose time, quite suddenly, is now.