The Yankees, who have lost three-fifths of their projected rotation, did not expect to call upon Jhony Brito this early.
Neither did Brito.
“It was very surprising because I was preparing myself to pitch in Triple-A,” Brito said through interpreter Marlon Abreu on Saturday, on the eve of his major league debut. “Go to Triple-A, take care of business at Triple-A, and then expect a call at some point.
“Obviously, this developed much quicker. Here I am today.”
As the Yankees finish their opening series against the Giants in The Bronx, their third starter of the year will be a 25-year-old making his major league debut.
Brito, who will look to get the Yankees back on the winning track after their 7-5 loss to the Orioles on Saturday, is coming off a strong spring in which he essentially established himself as No. 8 on the depth chart — and because Frankie Montas, Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino went down, No. 8 became No. 5.
Brito, whom the Yankees added to their 40-man roster in November, has never been here before — literally.
Before this series, the Dominican Republic native had never stepped foot in Yankee Stadium.
He made his organization debut in 2016, worked his way to Double-A Somerset in 2021 and pitched in 18 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year.
“Beautiful,” Brito said of the Stadium. “So many fans cheering for the team. Very eye-opening.”
Brito opened the Yankees’ eyes this spring and Aaron Boone’s immediately. After Brito’s first bullpen session, the Yankees manager turned to the pitching minds around him and said, “This guy can help us.”
The righty allowed three earned runs in 13 Grapefruit League innings and — when it became clear he was pitching for a possible rotation spot — he was at his best.
Last week, he pitched 5 ¹/₃ perfect innings against a Blue Jays lineup that featured several regulars.
“He went out and just pounded the zone with good stuff, so I’m excited for him,” Boone said of Brito — who beat out depth options such as Matt Krook, Deivi Garcia and Randy Vazquez. “Feel like he has the stuff to go out there and be successful.”
Brito, who pitched to a 3.31 ERA in Triple-A last year, has a mid-90s fastball and a changeup the Yankees like, as well as a breaking ball that can be landed for strikes.
When pitching coach Matt Blake told Brito he would be Sunday’s starter, he relayed a familiar message: Rely on the stuff that got you here. Keep pitching like you have been pitching.
Brito will try to keep cool while pitching in a place he had only known from TV and in his dreams.
“It’s a dream since I was a little kid to pitch in the big leagues,” Brito said. “I’m very excited and thankful for this opportunity that the Yankees have given me.”