The 2021 season will be a telling one for the New York Yankees. The time is now with this roster due to the number of issues they’re bound to run into next offseason and the one after.
On paper, this is the best team in the American League, largely due to attrition around them. Re-signing DJ LeMahieu didn’t make this team any better, getting rid of Adam Ottavino didn’t exactly fortify the bullpen, and swapping out Masahiro Tanaka for Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon, though promising, is best described as a risk since those two have barely pitched in the last two seasons.
Additionally, the Yankees have a number of returning players that, at the moment, we feel they’re going to rely somewhat heavily upon for production. But these aren’t the guys you’d be thrilled about being thrust into crucial roles or remaining a key piece to make the entire machine operate. They’re either hit-or-miss, unproven, or declining altogether.
Who are they? We take our best stab at it. Quick disclaimer, however. This isn’t to say these players won’t perform — the Yankees just shouldn’t be banking on them to return to their former selves or fill a larger role when they’ve yet to prove capable of doing so. Let’s hope they exceed expectations! It’s what we want, after all.
3. Jonathan Loaisiga
Yankees fans are still waiting for Jonathan Loaisiga to be something.
Jonathan Loaisiga has appeared in 36 games since debuting in 2018. Eleven of those have been starts. He’s finished seven games. Alright, what’s the deal?
First, it seemed like Johnny Lasagna was going to transition from spot starter to full-time starter. But he never really took off. Though he’s gradually improved each year and seemingly possesses the “stuff” to make it in the bullpen, he’s constantly failed (for the most part) in big spots. The AL Wild Card series against the Cleveland Indians is perhaps the most glaring evidence.
What else? The most innings he’s thrown in a single season in his career is. 31.2. With the Yankees losing two bullpen pieces in Ottavino and Jonathan Holder, who are they going to call upon to eat up more innings in middle relief? Darren O’Day is one, but who else? Holder was the Yankees best reliever for a solid portion of 2020. Loaisiga isn’t close to that level, at least not that we’ve seen.
In a year in which most pitchers, especially inexperienced ones, are going to be “off” due to the shortened 2020 campaign, relying on Loaisiga to fill a larger bullpen role seems irresponsible. That’s gotta be the plan for him, right? Because there’s no way he’ll be starting games with the amount of arms the Yankees added to the rotation.