The Yankees invited a few new faces to their 26-man roster this offseason, all of whom have impressed thus far, from the rotation mix (Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber) to the supposed fringes of the roster (Jay Bruce).
But what about the returning Yankees?
Quite a few players who we’re very much used to by now had some noise to make to assert themselves this spring, and three have stood out to us as being the loudest.
The Bronx Bombers are entering 2021 with the excess of depth we foolishly expected to see last season, long before the campaign was shut down and James Paxton and Luis Severino were on the operating table. If they’re going to hit their ceiling and finally deliver on a years-old promise of reaching the Fall Classic, though, they’ll need powerful statements from the corners of the roster.
These three all-important Yankees have made us pause. They’ve responded to adversity by stepping up. They’ve embraced new roles with reckless abandon. They’ve even briefly silenced the haters of postseasons past while unveiling a polished and devastating new pitch to boot.
You’d be hard-pressed to come away unimpressed after watching the 2021 Yankees training, but these three players have announced their readiness in the most emphatic ways yet.
These 3 Yankees have made powerful statements entering 2021.
3. Jonathan Loaisiga
Even though Zack Britton will be gone for about half the season, the Yankees aren’t exactly lacking for relief options, especially after turning their self-inflicted Adam Ottavino-sized hole into both Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson.
Too often over the past few years, though, we’ve seen the Yankees have the exact right amount of relievers ready for Game 1 of a playoff series, but not quite enough fresh for Games 2 and 3.
Jonathan Loaisiga becoming a reliable high-leverage weapon could change the calculus, and thus far this spring, he’s making a pretty good argument for himself.
In five games this spring, Loaisiga has flashed upgraded stuff, posting a beefy 10.1 innings pitched and never tossing fewer than two innings in any given appearance following his first tune-up. The results match the hype; an 0.87 ERA pockmarked by a lone earned run Saturday allowed to the Baltimore Orioles, and just four hits and eight strikeouts thus far.
In one freakish game, Loaisiga even induced four consecutive groundouts back to the mound, proving he’s even got a little bit of whimsy in that right arm, too.
Will he be “Baby Mariano”? No, New York Post. He won’t be. No one has ever said that sentence before.
After the 2020 postseason, though, he had something to prove — and he didn’t exactly have an extensive regular season record of success to bank on either. Now, without Aroldis Chapman for Opening Day (remember that whole Kevin Cash thing?), we wouldn’t be surprised to see Loaisiga for the seventh or eighth.
He’s earned that test.