When we’ve officially hit one too many “The Yankees Created Another Bullpen Ace Out of Nowhere” stories, you let us know.
For now, though, we plan to catalogue it every time it happens, and it just … keeps … happening.
Clay Holmes might’ve been the breaking point where even the most detached, casual fan had to admit there really was something to his profile beyond his surface numbers. It wasn’t just the Yankees pulling the wool over our eyes and claiming they were ready to “fix” someone else’s problem.
Holmes’ sinker mastery and changeup usage changed New York’s bullpen trajectory completely in the second half, despite a 4.93 ERA in Pittsburgh (1.61 with the Yankees). In the wake of that utter and total domination, it’s fair to perk up whenever anyone makes a similar prediction about a different under-the-radar pickup.
Enter Jimmy Cordero, selected from the White Sox on a minor-league deal just a few weeks ago and stashed away for the winter.
His 2019 cameo has a lot of people thinking there’s something to be unlocked when he returns from rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, a procedure he underwent in March 2021 after struggling through the shortened 2020 season.
And, again, if people are asking whether the Yankees have found another one, it’s probably worth assuming they have until proven otherwise — especially since Cordero fits Matt Blake’s profile to a t.
Did the Yankees uncover another gem in Jimmy Cordero?
Yeah, a sinker-centric electric reliever who’s over one year removed from major surgery and could find his rhythm in the second half? That’ll play. Cordero could truly be Holmes 2.0 with the exact same timing.
Cordero, with a bad 1.1 innings in Toronto under his belt (oops!), was claimed on waivers by the Mariners before being claimed by the White Sox … where he largely dominated in 2019, posting a 2.75 ERA in 36.0 innings while whiffing 31.
2020 was a mess, of course, which seems to have thrown some people off the scent — 6.08 ERA in 30 games prior to the injury.
The 2019 numbers aren’t too far buried, though, and the high-velocity sinker, mixed with the unrealized potential of his strikeout totals, seem to indicate the Yanks could make something happen here.
One downside, though: Cordero will absolutely prevent the Yankees from pursuing Willson Contreras in any possible trade.
The two have, uh, a history.
Cordero could eventually join a long line of minor-league longshots and flame out in the Bronx, sure.
But the Yankees’ successful track record with minor-league relief retreads is almost as long as their unsuccessful track record with starting pitching imports. The ex-White Sox is worth a longer look, especially in August and September.