The Yankees I’m Most Excited To Watch In 2021
The Yankees I’m Most Excited To Watch In 2021
by Owen Hetherington
March 31, 2021
We’re just a day away from Opening Day in the Bronx and like the rest of you, I’m excited and eager to watch a full 162-game season of Yankees Baseball. 2020 was a bit of a letdown in terms of production in the playoffs and the continuity of the injury bug.
The playoffs last year were a disappointment with the Yanks getting bounced in the ALDS by the Tampa Bay Rays, losing the series 3-2. But 2021 is a new year with both familiar and new faces in the Yankees clubhouse. The expectations for this team couldn’t be higher and Yankees fans, like every year, believe it’s World Series or bust.
I’m personally one of the individuals who think the Yankees need to win it all in 2021. I think I can speak for most Yankees fans who didn’t grow up in the “glory days” of the ‘90s by saying, the Yankees have been one of the biggest disappointments in all of baseball in the last decade. 2009 was the only World Series I have lived through being 21 now. Yankees fans my age have seen nothing except years of overhyped offseasons to be followed disappointments in October.
2021 is the year where I hope it all changes – the year where the Yankees get past the injury bug, the year where the rotation is solid from top to bottom, the year we finally see 140 plus games of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the same lineup, and the year where the bats stay hot in the playoffs and Yankees fans can celebrate winning it all.
To reach the ultimate goal of a World Series, there needs to be consistency from the Yankees’ entire roster. With that said, though, there are currently four guys in particular who I’m ecstatic to watch play this season.
These are the four:
Ever since Gerrit Cole held up the “Yankees Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever” sign during his introductory press conference, I couldn’t wait to watch him to be the team’s ace. 2020 hindered his ability to play a full-season, due to the Covid pandemic. 2021 will be his first full season in pinstripes and I couldn’t be more excited to see him play.
In that same press conference where the Yankees introduced Cole, Hal Steinbrenner said that he expects to see “multiple” championships throughout Cole’s nine-year contract. Cole didn’t take that statement lightly and said that he enjoys the thought of pitching under pressure because pressure is a privilege.
Cole looks like he’s out for blood today pic.twitter.com/lbxyshWEAT — The Short Porch (@short_porch) March 21, 2021
Since that morning in December of 2019, a lot has changed on this Yankees roster. Gerrit Cole has emerged as not only the ace but a leader in the clubhouse after only one short season. His mind for pitching is among the best in all of baseball and I know he has a championship on his mind heading into 2021.
Gerrit Cole had a solid year on the mound last season, and I expect that to carry over in 2021. Through 12 starts in 2020, Cole went 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 73.0 IP and recorded 94 punchouts. I think with a full Spring Training under Cole’s belt, he will be even more efficient in 2021.
Cole is one of the guys I’m most excited to see in 2021 because the ceiling is the limit for him. He can put up Cy Young numbers for the Yankees and be the true ace that carries us in October when we need him the most.
In all honesty, I didn’t know a whole lot about Jameson Taillon when the Yankees traded for him in late January. All I knew that he was coming over from the Pirates and anytime the Pirates trade one of their starting pitchers, they turn out to be studs. Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton have all turned out to be solid pitchers since the Pirates have traded them.
Jameson Taillon is also a guy who has been through hell and back since his arrival to the majors in 2016. He’s been through two Tommy John surgeries and beat cancer. As Gerrit Cole said, “He’s one of the most resilient people I’ve ever known”.
Already love Taillon pic.twitter.com/8dnEz5hBpP — The Short Porch (@short_porch) March 1, 2021
This is exactly the type of pitcher I want to be a part of the Yankees’ rotation. He’s shortened his arm action and added more power to his legs that will allow him to take the stress off his arm after two TJ’s. He has the capability of being one of the top pitchers in the rotation in 2021.
Everyone held their breath this Spring during Taillon’s starts to see what he had left in the tank. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a bit question mark, but his Spring outings looked promising. Through four games this Spring, Taillon threw 8.1 innings and only let up one earned run with 14 strikeouts. Every time he stepped on the mound this Spring; Taillon looked like he was on a mission against every batter he faced.
In my preseason predictions, I said that Taillon can win the second-most games on this pitching staff, behind Gerrit Cole. Taillon is a guy I’m excited to watch because of everything he’s been through in his life and for how well he did this Spring. The ceiling is the limit for Taillon. Expect him to have a huge year in 2021.
This past offseason, Aaron Judge and the Yankees came to terms during arbitration, setting on a one-year $10,175,000 contract. The Yankees did not consider extending Judge this offseason, as the focus was on obtaining starting pitching and staying under the luxury tax. He will be a free agent in 2023 and this season will be a huge test to see whether or not he can stay on the field. If he doesn’t, I don’t see how the Yankees could consider an extension for Judge before he reaches FA.
Judge missed the majority of the 2020 shortened season by only playing 28 of the 60 scheduled games. I think every Yankee fan hopes that he can stay healthy throughout the 2021 season and make a serious impact. After playing 155 games in 2017, Judge has only played in 242 of 384 regular-season games (63%).
Aaron Judge annihilated this baseball pic.twitter.com/ic6PALbyYZ — The Short Porch (@short_porch) March 25, 2021
When Judge is on the field, he has the capability of being one of the best players in all of baseball. He is a threat on both sides of the baseball with elite defense and carries a big bat. For Judge to get back to his 2017 self where he was second in the MVP voting and won AL ROY, he will need to stay healthy.
Along with what he does on the field, Judge is a leader in the clubhouse and is the face of the franchise. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed him stepping up to speak on behalf of the team during both his own and the team’s struggles. He is eager to win a championship, along with the rest of the Yankees, and I predict a huge season from Aaron Judge in 2021.
Every time Giancarlo stepped to the plate during Spring Training, I was in awe of his ability to annihilate the baseball, to all parts of the field. He is lethal with the bat and this season, like Judge, will be a big test of his durability. Stanton needs to stay healthy to prove how valuable he is to the Yankee lineup.
In 13 Spring Training games, Stanton hit .314 (11-for-35) with three doubles, 6 RBI, 1 HR, 6 BB, and 2 runs. Although only went yard once, Stanton had an exit velocity of 105.0 or greater in 8 of his 11 hits. His highest EV this Spring was a 120.1 mph line out and was the hardest hit ball recorded in all of Major League Baseball. Stanton can hit the ball harder than anyone in baseball and can do it to all parts of the field.
Baseball is so unfair. 120.1 EV from Stanton on the line out pic.twitter.com/rLy3zKxbPq — The Short Porch (@short_porch) March 15, 2021
The Yankees lineup is more destructive with Stanton in the lineup. He needs to stay healthy to do this. Like most Yankees fans, I think Stanton should just stay in the DH role and not step foot in the outfield. With the depth the Yankees have in the OF, there is no reason to risk injury by playing him when one of the regular starters needs an off day.
I’m expecting big numbers from Stanton this season. He’s my dark-horse candidate to take home the AL-MVP. I’m expecting Stanton to return to his old self and put up the numbers that he did during his MVP season in 2017 when he crushed 57 home runs. I think Stanton is going to be one of the most influential pieces on offense this year, which is why I’m so excited to see what he does in 2021.