Yankees: 3 players who have proved us wrong beyond belief
If you told us back in June that the New York Yankees would endure a truly epic 33-11 run and wouldn’t have been able to do so without these three players, we would have laughed ourselves to death.
Life as a Yankees fan was not good for the better part of the first four months of the 2021 season. They lacked energy. They endured three COVID outbreaks. They couldn’t utilize any momentum. They were 41-41 on July 4! The favorites to win the AL were a .500 team almost midway through the campaign!
Their best players weren’t performing. Their offseason acquisitions were … terrible. The re-signing of Brett Gardner appeared to be a massive mistake. Giancarlo Stanton was OPSing under .800 in June. DJ LeMahieu was no longer LeMachine. Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton were no longer the lockdown duo (and still aren’t!) they once were.
But here we are. The Yankees are leading the American League Wild Card race and are only 4.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to no help from the Philadelphia Phillies this week (thanks!).
And it’s truly insane to think that the Yankees would not be 74-52 without these contributors who looked like they’d be demoted from their starting role, optioned to the minor leagues, or outright designated for assignment.
You’re shocked. We’re shocked. But things have turned around and these players have carved out very important roles for themselves. If there’s a bigger story to be told at the end of this season, these guys cannot be excluded from the plot.
These three Yankees proved us wrong beyond belief.
3. Jameson Taillon
What else can we possibly say about Jameson Taillon. Before getting roughed up on Thursday night, he was 23 starts in and owned a 3.94 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 121 strikeouts in 123.1 innings of work. This man had a 5.74 ERA on June 12. He’s since worked his way back to lower that mark by almost two full runs and took home the American League Pitcher of the Month honors after he allowed just three earned runs across five July starts.
The road was always going to be long and arduous for the right-hander, which is why his offseason acquisition was put into question. The Yankees opted for Jamo and passed on fellow Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove, who’s dominated for the San Diego Padres right now. What was the issue with that?
Taillon was coming off his second Tommy John surgery as well as a battle with testicular cancer. And the Yankees had already signed Corey Kluber, who’d hardly pitched since 2019. Two guys who are going to need a ton of time to get acclimated after devastating injuries/situations and long layoffs? It just didn’t seem like a great idea.
But we really don’t know where this team would be without Taillon, who’s helped lengthen the rotation during a few COVID outbreaks that kept Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery and Nestor Cortes on the shelf. The Yankees are 9-1 in his last 10 starts and the only loss was the unthinkable ninth-inning collapse against the Houston Astros right before the All-Star break.
Cheers to you, Jamo. Incredible stuff.