At the beginning of the 2021 MLB Season the New York Yankees looked like the team to beat in the American League according to all World Series Odds lists around the internet. Be it because of their pitching rotation that once again looked as dominant as one would expect the Yankees to have season in and season out, or their one-two massive hitting power punch of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton alongside the rest of roster that was giving off all the right pinstripe championship vibes, the Yankees look poised to once again be the powerhouse baseball club everyone knows them to be.
Then the season started, the Yankees were everything but what was expected from them and all of the predictions made by analysts, experts and fans started going out the windows. It was hard to see and understand how a team so stacked in all of their lines could be flunking so badly, yet there they were, the all-powerful New York Yankees, playing like a little league team in the majors.
But all of a sudden the Yankees remembered what it was like to dominate and now they’re back in full swing fighting not only for a spot in the playoffs but for their division crown. The question here is, what changed, or what made them change? Here we break down a couple of reasons why the Yankees are back and without any signs of stopping any time soon.
The Anthony Rizzo Effect
The trade deadline day was a day for tragedy if you’re a Chicago Cubs fan. The Cubs saw their three cornerstone stars leave their team, looking for new horizons. While Kris Bryant left to join the Giants in San Francisco, Javi Baez left to join the Mets in New York, but the most important trade and the one that’s paying the most dividends up to this date is Anthony Rizzo joining the New York Yankees. First baseman Anthony Rizzo going to the Yankees worked out in ways even the Yankees weren’t expecting and now are true believers that if they could re do the Rizzo trade all over again they would do it on repeat, especially after all the positive results it has brought to the organization.
Rizzo has helped boost up one of the positions in the Yankees lineup that was truly suffering, the 1st baseman position. A lot has been expected all season long from 1st baseman Luke Voit, but his constant injury problems have become yet another torn in the Yankees back that they were not expecting to be dealing with. So, enter former Cubs 1st baseman Rizzo. Ever since joining the Yankees, this team has looked completely different.
It was literally like Rizzo brought with him some “Space Jam” style magic juice that everyone in the clubhouse drank because the Yankees have gone from trying to climb their way up in the division standings to actually becoming a true threat to everyone around and putting the league on notice, especially after a dominant 10 game winning streak. The Rizzo effect is real and if it continues, we might be looking at the Yankees not only taking their division but also posting the most serious of threats for any other contending team in the AL in the postseason.
The Pitching Core Has Shown Strength Through Everything
If the New York Yankees had a completely healthy pitching staff, both in their rotation as well as in the bullpen, they would be the best pitching core in the MLB, or at least the American League. But, the season has not been kind to the Yankees and their pitching roster in any way, still, New York has been able to continuously rely on their pitchers to keep the boat afloat and they have answered back with their full support. Gerrit Cole has truly established himself as the true leader of this pitching rotation but the two true stories here are, what will happen once all of the pitchers are fully healthy once again and how good Nestor Cortes and Luis Gil have been.
On the one hand you have to take into consideration that once healthy, this rotation could finally include the likes of Cole, Taillon, Montgomery, Kluber, Severino and German. That’s without taking into account all of the other pitchers like Luis Gil, Nestor Cortes and Andrew Heaney and what they have been able to bring to this rotation who at points were in dire need of help. The question here is not what can be done with Kluber for example, he will surely be back in the rotation, but what to do about Domingo German and Luis Severino? Yes, they’re good, as good as one can get, but do you take out two of your best pitchers right now in Cortes and Gil to put back to pitchers that while very good are coming off the injury list?
I say that taking into account what Luis Gil and especially what Nestor Cortes have been doing it would be in New York’s best interest to keep German and Severino in the bullpen for now and let them work their way back to in-game availability. You cannot deny that Nestor Cortes has been the best Yankee story this season with his funky pitching style and all-around expertise in the mound and Luis Gil deserves a fighting chance after coming out of nowhere and dominating when needed. The Yankees are going to need as much arm power if they wish to make a true and deep postseason run, so having as many available top tier pitchers will be key and as of right now and if no injury scares are to happen, the Yankees might be looking at just that.