With only a few more months left in the second half, we’ve seen surprising veterans be able to hold their spots on MLB rosters. For one season that has been filled with no-hitters, postponements, and shocking results, tons will be surprised to see some of these players hold spots on active rosters. Without further ado, here are some players who have proved to still be key contributors to their respective organizations.
- Matt Harvey– Baltimore Orioles
Yes, the Dark Knight has found his way back to the show. After being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in 2018, Harvey dealt with struggles holding a spot in their rotation. Harvey struggling in the rotation, getting limited time for the Angels and Royals, he made his way back to a team working to find their pieces. Being scoreless for consecutive innings in 2021, Harvey is looking to get back into the dominant groove. He was best known for helping the New York Mets find their way into the 2015 World Series, being lights out alongside Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, and Zack Wheeler.
Currently pitching to a 6-11 record for the O’s, Harvey has made the most starts for the Orioles, working at 23 starts. Even though he holds a 6.10 ERA, he has been more consistent with throwing scoreless outings in his last few starts, but hitters can see the ball well off him. Hopefully, Harvey will hold a spot in Oriole’s plans. With Rutschman set to be the catcher in 2022 and beyond, it can benefit their pitching staff.
- Bryan Shaw– Cleveland Indians
After an interesting 2020 season only netting six appearances for the Mariners, Shaw found his way back to Cleveland on a minor league contract. Making the MLB team, it’s clear Shaw still has what it takes to compete in the bullpen. Shaw pitched for the Indians back from 2013-2017, throwing in 378 games, putting together a 3.11 ERA, striking out 333 batters. Shaw might be on track having the best season of his career, holding a 2.91 ERA and 59 strikeouts through 52.2 innings in 2021. Pitching at age 33, Shaw is not showing any signs of slowing down, being a key contributing veteran able to get outs. He’s also locked down two saves.
Cleveland can potentially look to re-sign Shaw for the 2022 season, for the new Cleveland Guardians. Currently, in second place in the A.L. Central Division, the Indians can have the bullpen that can be a force in the American League for years to come.
- Wily Peralta– Detroit Tigers
After not appearing in a major league uniform for the 2020 season, Wily Peralta was able to find his way back to the big leagues. Formerly a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers early in his career, he ended up working in the bullpen for the Kansas City Royals, not showcasing the best stats in 2019. But, this year Peralta surprised the MLB, showing that he can still be a starter in the rotation. Making 10 starts for Detroit, Peralta has a 3-2 record with a 3.48 ERA. Detroit has been streaky this season, not having the strongest hitting lineup, but their pitching has made tremendous strides and can continue to have that success down the long road. Joining young pitchers like Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, and Matt Manning, Peralta has shown to be consistent in helping the Tigers to win more ball games.
Just behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Divison, Peralta and the rest of the young Tigers rotation could really give the lineup more confidence if they can post more scoreless innings and the Tigers can score earlier in ball games. It would be interesting to see Peralta end up in the Tigers mix for plans, only at 32 years old. He could be a contributor for the Tiger’s interesting bullpen next season or eat up the long innings for a starter’s struggles.
- Jed Lowrie– Oakland Athletics
A true surprise to come back and return to his old form this year was 2B Jed Lowrie. A longtime MLB veteran now, Lowrie was limited the past two seasons being injury-plagued during his tenure for the New York Mets. After appearing as an All-Star during the 2018 season, he signed a two-year contract with the New York Mets, going 0-7 in nine games in 2019. He was sidelined all last season due to a hamstring injury.
This year in 2021, Lowrie made the team out of spring training and hasn’t looked back. Lowrie found himself once again, batting .256 with 13 home runs and 61 RBI’s. Oakland is looking to get back into the postseason, currently two games behind the Houston Astros in the A.L. West Division. If Lowrie can continue his impressive season, Oakland can look to bring him back for next season until prospect Logan Davidson is ready to contribute at the big-league level.
- Paul Sewald– Seattle Mariners
Another former Met ends up on this list, with Paul Sewald having the year he’s having. Sewald was a reliever who would be between the majors and minors throughout his stint with the Mets. Between 2017-2020, Sewald held a career 1-14 record and a 5.50 career ERA in New York. Being picked up by the Mariners on a minor league contract, Sewald is having the best year of his career. Pitching in 37 games for Seattle, the right-hander holds a 2.84 ERA, a 7-3 record, and finished 10 ball games. Through 38 innings of work, Sewald also has struck out 64 batters, only walking 12.
A change of scenery was much needed for Sewald, but it will be a real test if the Mariners decide to bring him on board for their bullpen come 2022. Currently, the Mariners are in third place in the A.L. West Standings. Once Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, and Julio Rodriguez are providing a bulk of the M’s offense, Sewald could be the setup man the Mariners desire for years to come.
- Spencer Patton-Texas Rangers
Since his last appearance during the 2016 season in the majors, Spencer Patton found his way to a struggling Texas Rangers team. Despite the team’s struggles, Patton returned to the majors and might be able to stick around for a few more years to come. Pitching overseas in Japan from 2017-2020, Patton was able to pitch well, throwing to a 3.68 in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Netting himself a minor league contract over the offseason, Patton got his opportunity to come back. Taking full advantage of a struggling 5th place Rangers, Patton currently holds a 3.32 ERA in 23 relief appearances, finishing 10 games, and striking out 29 batters through 21.2 innings of work.
Unfortunately, Texas is working on a rebuild, preparing its future for Josh Jung, Jack Leiter, Sam Huff, and others following close behind. If Patton can continue a strong 2021 season, the Rangers should consider bringing him back as an established veteran who will be able to lock down ballgames for the Rangers. Patton and Jose Leclerc could be an issue during the late innings come 2022 for Texas.
- Odubel Herrera– Philadelphia Phillies
Since he was a Rule 5 pick when he first came to the show, Herrera has been a consistent hitter who provides great offense for a team. Being named to an All-Star team in 2016, struggles haunted Herrera after 2016, where he was not as consistent as he was in his first two big-league seasons. Due to suspensions and allegations, Herrera missed a majority of the 2019 season and all of the shortened 2020 season. Coming back with manager Joe Girardi in 2021, Herrera has played well, being clutch when need be. Only mustering a .243 average, his performance has been much better, also blasting 8 home runs in 81 games for the Fightin Phils. Getting themselves into 1st place in the N.L. East Division, the Phillies have the players to help them make a great run come this October.
If the Mets and Braves can’t secure playoff spots, the Phillies can be one team ready to make noise with their offense this October. It will be interesting to see what the Phillies decide to do with Herrera, with still having Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley, and Mickey Moniak in their organization as potential outfielders for the future of Philadelphia.
- Alcides Escobar– Washington Nationals
The former Milwaukee Brewer and Kansas City Royals standout of the 2010s is back playing in 2021. The Royal’s former fan favorite had signed a minor league contract with them after playing last season overseas. The former All-Star and Gold Glove shortstop ended up being traded to the Washington Nationals after struggles and injuries to their team. With the team creating a lot more depth, trading away Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, and Yan Gomes, the Nationals now look to become younger and develop more of their farm system. Becoming once again a regular in the Nationals lineup after the situation that took place with Starlin Castro, fans are amazed to still see Escobar contributing once again.
Throughout 29 games played for the Nats, Escobar holds a .273 batting average, tallying 8 RBIs and going deep once. In no place for contention this postseason, Escobar is currently splitting time with veteran Jordy Mercer and young players Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia in the infield. If Washington decides to hold onto Escobar for the 2022 season, he would be a tremendous veteran to learn from, with young guys in the system like Kieboom, Garcia, and even 2021 Draft pick, Brady House.
- Rafael Ortega– Chicago Cubs
In a year where Cubs are usually the team to compete with, they traded away a majority of their infield. With Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo all in new uniforms, who were even left besides David Bote, Willson Contreras, and Jason Heyward for the Cubs? Shockingly, one player who has been having a quiet year for the Cubs is outfielder Rafael Ortega. Ortega, 30 years of age made his MLB Debut back in 2012 for Colorado, getting his feet wet. Mainly a minor league journeyman, Ortega made an appearance for the Angels in 2016, the Marlins in 2018, and the Braves for 2019. But this year through 59 games, Ortega has been one of the main guys for the Cubs to rely on. The outfielder currently holds a .331 batting average with 6 home runs and 16 RBI’s.
Becoming one of the everyday outfielders now, Ortega is showing that he is a competitor and is working out for a team that mainly carries rookies like Johenshwy Fargas and Greg Deichmann in their outfield now. If the Cubs decide not to spend on free agents come this winter, Ortega could slide into a starting role, but it will be up to him if he can stay consistent for the 2022 season. Cubs also have Brennan Davis mashing in AA Tennessee, so he is not far behind to make an impact for next year.
- Darin Ruf– San Francisco Giants
A team that has been hot all season, with their pitchers and hitters becoming a menace in the N.L. West, this player has turned heads all year. Former Phillies’ first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf has paved his way back into the MLB smoothly. Ruf played overseas from 2016-2019 in Korea, proving that he still has what it takes to compete at the MLB level. Signing during the 2020 offseason, Ruf worked his way to make the Giants for Opening Day 2020 and has not disappointed. For the 1st place Giants, Ruf has played through 83 games, batting .273, blasting 13 home runs and 30 RBI’s.
Most likely having the best season of his career, he has been clutch to hold onto for the bench and platooning with outfielders, Lamonte Wade Jr., Steven Duggar, and others. Mainly a first baseman, playing over Brandon Belt who has dealt with numerous injuries this season, the Giants have not missed a beat the entire season, really making it a “next man up” process in San Francisco. Ruf could be a name that could be discussed this winter since he has shown to be clutch throughout the past two seasons for the Giants.
With veterans still showing that they can dominate at the big league level, it can really pave the way for the team’s chances for the 2022 MLB season. With playoff rapidly approaching, can these veterans continue their strong performances to lock their names onto respective rosters next year? Which veterans can continue to impress their fans for years to come?