When you think of the Yankees, you always think of the big name players. Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, etc. The 2021 Yankees have not been all about those players. Although, the big name players have been contributors, the Yankees would not be in the position they are if it wasn’t for a few of those players who do not get the recognition they deserve. Having that said, there are six “unsung heroes” that deserve to be mentioned a lot more than they do.
1. Clay Holmes
Clay Holmes came over in the deal the Yankees made with the Pirates. A lot of people were not happy with this trade as Cashman was trading for, yet again, another high ERA reliever. When looking at Holmes, the ERA can be deceiving. In 2021, he has a 4.30 ERA. However, Holmes has one of the highest ground ball ratings in all of baseball. He doesn’t give up many home runs, but does seem to walk a lot of batters. Since he came over to the Big Apple, Holmes has been impressive. In 10.1 IP, he has only allowed 2 ER, while posting a 1.74 ERA. Holmes has been a go to guy for the Yankees and doesn’t seem to stop the dominance any time soon.
Wandy Peralta was traded to New York from San Francisco in exchange for OF Mike Tauchman. Tauchman found himself as the odd man out in a stacked Yankee outfield. Wandy started off his Yankee career as a lower end reliever which he was average at best. However, as of late, Peralta finds himself called on in high leverage situations and has been doing his job. The most recent outing, coming from the struggles of Aroldis Chapman, Wandy came in the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs, bases loaded. He got out of the jam in Atlanta, having the reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman, fly out to OF Joey Gallo. Wandy Peralta, in the month of August, pitched 11.2 innings without an earned run, which was 3rd best in the majors. Peralta has proved himself as a go to reliever for Aaron Boone.
3. Nestor Cortes
Nestor Cortes has been a huge surprise for New York. After being traded from the Yankees to Seattle, he found himself back in pinstripes not too long after. Cortes was used as a reliever for most of his time in New York the first tenure, but has recently embraced the role of a starter. With injuries slowing down the Yankees staff, Boone called upon Cortes to move to the starting staff and he has not disappointed. In 2021, Cortes has a 2-2 record while posting a 2.77 ERA. For what was called upon him, he had the “next man up” mentality. Pitching against teams like the Astros, the Red Sox, and the Rays, he’s been a very reliable starter. The rest of the pitching staff love having a guy like Nestor around. He’s been showed some love as of late with earning the nickname “Nasty Nestor”. He also has one of the funkiest pitching deliveries in baseball. He seems to use that to his advantage as he doesn’t wow you with a 100 mph fastball. Cortes is a guy who I see sticking around in the Yankees staff for a long time.
Where to start with this man? Jonathan Loaisiga in recent years has been an average reliever for the Bombers. In 2021, he took off. Loaisiga as proved time and time again that he is the number one go to reliever for this team. Not only can Loaisiga pitch in high leverage situations, but he can pitch in multiple innings of high leverage situations. In 2021, he has a record of 9-4 while posting a 2.23 ERA. Loaisiga is great all around. He strikes out a lot of batters, has a low walk rate, and keeps the ball in the park. When Boone calls for Loaisiga from the bullpen, he gives you a sense of safety in any situation. If the Yankees are down, he gives you the thought of still being in the game. If he comes in, in a save situation, you feel the game is locked down. Loaisiga has found himself a home for a long time in New York as the top reliever for the New York Yankees.
Andrew Velazquez was born and raised in the Bronx. Andrew actually lives in the home he grew up in with his parents. The hometown kid made his debut with the Yankees and was an instant fan favorite. Velazquez is finding himself as the everyday shortstop while Gleyber Torres is currently rehabbing in Somerset. Velazquez has 50 AB, 12 H, 1 HR, and is batting .240. The stats may not wow you, however, he has made an impact on this team. He plays everyday with his heart. He has great defense, grinds out every AB, and is a great guy to have in the clubhouse. His energy rubs off on the other guys in the lineup. With Gleyber Torres eyeing a soon return, I really hope we keep Andrew up with the team. He has great speed that would pair well with Tyler Wade coming off the bench.
6. Rougned Odor
Rougned Odor was DFA’d by the Texas Rangers near the start of the season. He’s a versatile infielder who seems to be comfortable to play any position. The Yankees seem to be a team to pick up veterans and rejuvenate their career. Rougned Odor was no exception. Due to Texas deciding to DFA Odor, they are paying for his salary for the rest of the year. Rougned seemed to take that personally as he is finding himself flourishing with his new squad. In 290 AB this season, he has 63 H, 15 HR, and a .213 BA. He has great plate discipline, he’s versatile, and he’s a great guy to have around the clubhouse. He’s always there for teammates when they need him. Watching the Yankees play, whenever Matt Blake comes out to talk to his pitchers, Odor is always in the visit. He’s always there to hype up the guys in the lineup and when he gets ahold of one, he has a sweet bat flip. Odor found himself DFA’d at the beginning of 2021, now he finds himself as a key contributor to the New York Yankees.