No, the New York Yankees’ pitching wasn’t the problem in their sleepy three-game series loss to kick off the 2021 campaign against the Blue Jays.
Yes, it did still add insult to injury to see two rookie pitchers the Yankees had essentially gifted to opposing teams star on Sunday.
And yes, it hurt the most watching one impressive debut occur in the home whites at Fenway Park.
Beautiful day, indeed.
We are, of course, aiming no shade at the players in question for going out and dominating in their first tastes of big league action.
We’re simply aiming our scorn at the Yankees for improperly evaluating Taylor Widener and Garrett Whitlock improperly along the way — or, at least, receiving nothing much of value in return for their services.
Two ex-Yankees pitching prospects dominated MLB action on Sunday.
Widener pitched in 12 games in the shortened 2020 season out of the bullpen, and we’ll forgive Yankees fans if they missed them. Most of us forgot to tune into a lot of fan-less Arizona Diamondbacks games last season.
No matter, because Widener saved his best for his first MLB start on Sunday anyway, twirling six shutout in San Diego against the vaunted Padres.
The Yanks lost Widener in one of the least-dissected bizarre trades of the past decade, sending him to Arizona while also sending infield prospect Nick Solak within the division to the Tampa Bay Rays, all to have the right to play…Brandon Drury. Seen at the time as “crucial infield depth,” Drury arrived in New York, was immediately revealed to have a vision issue, and hit .176. It was one of those classic deals where analysts praised Drury as a hidden gem, only for the Yankees to realize too late that there was something extremely wrong with him.
Solak, too, has gone on to be a productive big leaguer, while Drury, by far the least interesting chip in this deal, was later traded for…JA Happ. Overall, we’re having a ton of fun watching Widener dominate, thanks for asking.
His wasn’t the most infuriating 2021 debut on Sunday, though, as Yankees fans were again given a reminder from Boston that they let an innings-eating bullpen piece walk away for legitimately no return in the Rule 5 draft this offseason.
Garrett Whitlock was left unprotected by the Bombers over such luminaries as Brooks Kriske and Albert Abreu, as well as faraway top prospects who never would’ve stuck on an MLB roster for a full 162 games like Alexander Vizcaino.
Also…why did Greg Allen need a 40-man spot at the time? Just to be jettisoned later?
Regardless of how we got here, the Yankees rolled the dice with Whitlock and it’s swiftly backfired, as he whiffed five in 3.1 shutout innings at Fenway this weekend.
Not a bad first impression, though Bombers fans are hoping they’ve also seen the last of these impressive arms. At least Drury’s long gone.