It’s the 2021 New York Yankees. We know hindsight is 20/20 with just about everything. But seriously, where’s Stephen Ridings been for the last month?
You mean to tell us there’s been a 100 MPH flame-throwing reliever at Triple-A for the last few weeks and we’re just seeing him now? After everything the pitching staff has endured?
The front office has opted to stick with Brooks Kriske, Nick Nelson and Albert Abreu this long instead of giving a guy like Ridings a shot before August? OK, we get it, he only had eight games under his belt at Scranton, but still. At this point, anything is better than those three, so long as they’re going to be used incredibly infrequently.
Call us harsh, but that’s yet another (slight) miss for the organization … which really seems to keep missing and missing outside of the Anthony Rizzo deadline trade.
But better late than never! Ridings is already a fan favorite after his impressive MLB debut on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, which lasted one stellar inning, featuring three strikeouts on 16 pitches (13 of which were strikes).
The man hit 100 MPH on the gun. Multiple times! He made the famous Pitching Ninja Twitter account shortly after, too. What a night it was. And best of all? Ridings trolled himself and fun with the surreal sequence of events.
Yankees prospect Stephen Ridings trolled himself after his MLB debut.
No, Stephen, this is the beginning of the peak! The fans want more! The right-hander quickly went from “who is this Nick Nelson/Clint Frazier impersonator on the mound” to “keep this guy on the roster, please!”
But it was also emotional for the 25-year-old, who revealed his grandmother passed away on Monday. Thankfully, his unexpected promotion really helped him and his family cope with the loss.
Ridings got the call because the Yankees had their THIRD (3rd!) COVID-19 outbreak of the 2021 season. And they’re above the 85% vaccination threshold! Everything happens for a reason, they say. And fans couldn’t be happier they got the Stephen Ridings experience just when the team (once again) was looking for some sort of jolt to wake up their energy-deficient roster.
His path was even more arduous before this, though. He was drafted by the Cubs in 2017 and really didn’t pitch much for the next three years (he was with the Royals in 2019 and missed all of 2020 due to the pandemic before signing with the Yankees).
Nobody is sitting here saying Ridings would be a bullpen savior, but for crying out loud, anybody who hits triple digits is an asset as long as they’re not throwing every pitch straight into the backstop. Is it really worth holding onto Abreu, Nelson and Kriske, all of whom pitch twice a month?
Let’s take a ride with Ridings, who seems to be electrifying on the field (1.24 ERA in 22 minor-league games) and entertaining and jovial off of it. Every little bit helps. Close the analytics binder for once.