It’s that time of the lockout where we put our feet up on a desk, cue up “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and start playing old 2021 Yankees highlights of Albert Abreu wriggling out of jams all second-half long.
Whatever poor impression Abreu made during his 2020 debut and the first portion of his 2021 season was erased during the summer months, when he began to channel his upper-90s cutting fastball and showed off improved command and control.
In case Abreu didn’t make your initial 2022 bullpen projections, though — it’s ok, we forgot, too — he’s taken the time to remind us of what he can do with a winter stint in the Dominican League.
Last season, Abreu’s numbers were inflated by one of the worst outings you will ever see at The Trop in Tampa. We excoriated Aaron Boone to no end for leaving the kid out on the mound to flail as he allowed six earned runs on three homers, retiring zero batters. We whined about how it would lead to his downward spiral, and that there was no coming back from such embarrassment.
Spoiler alert: He came back.
From that point forth, Abreu lowered his ERA from 5.65 to 4.08 before a Sept. 18 drubbing at the hands of Cleveland sent it out of whack once again (a disaster series we don’t want to talk about, thanks).
His upward trajectory has continued this offseason for the Tigres del Licey, and though we can’t outright declare that Abreu will be a seventh-or-eighth-inning guy this summer, he seems ticketed for the old Chad Green role: occasional opener, with the ability to commandeer a solid middle relief chunk.
Yankees reliever Albert Abreu could be a forgotten weapon on the 2022 roster.
Abreu and Michael King will be lurking at the bottom of the Spring Training pecking order, but both men could ultimately make the roster in a similar role.
We’re well aware LIDOM isn’t a be all, end all predictor of success; though the competition level is relatively high, it’s still not quite an MLB equivalent.
But Abreu’s sterling numbers — minus one thing, that blasted strikeout total — should help remind fans that he’s the odds-on favorite for the final bullpen spot, if everyone stays healthy.
It’s not quite the Luis Medina Breakout of 2020-21, but Abreu’s performance is still noteworthy, and serves as a continuation of the good things we saw down the stretch in August and September 2021.