The New York Yankees’ 2021 season came to an end in the American League Wild Card Game, and many fans are frustrated with the way the team’s year went.
Those frustrations are justified, as New York — a popular preseason pick to represent the AL in the World Series — vastly underachieved.
But despite the team’s shortcomings in 2021, there are a few things that happened this season that Yankees fans should smile about.
We’re going to focus on the positives today.
Let’s get started.
3. Corey Kluber Gave Fans An Unforgettable Night In May
Although a shoulder injury threw a wrench into Corey Kluber’s 2021 campaign, he gave fans an unforgettable memory early in the season.
On May 19, in a road game against the Texas Rangers, Kluber made history.
He tossed a dominant no-hitter in which fanned nine and walked just one.
HE'S DONE IT! A NO-HITTER FOR COREY KLUBER!!!!! pic.twitter.com/DHD9CaAlz9
— Bronx Bomber Ball (@BronxBomberBall) May 20, 2021
This was a great baseball moment.
Before the 2021 season, many folks thought the two-time Cy Young Award winner was washed, but he proved that notion wrong in a big way.
His no-hitter wasn’t just lightning in a bottle — he had a really solid 2021 campaign when healthy.
He finished with a 3.83 ERA and 3.85 FIP across 16 starts.
It’ll be interesting to see if Kluber returns to New York in 2022.
2. Jordan Montgomery’s Career Year
When Jordan Montgomery had a strong rookie season in 2017, the Yankees were thrilled about his trajectory.
But after a rocky few years for the lefty, some concerns arose.
Those concerns were put to rest in the 2021 regular season, as Montgomery had the best year of his young career.
He posted a 3.83 ERA, 3.69 FIP, and 1.28 WHIP across 30 starts.
At certain points throughout the year, he showed flashes of ace potential.
For example, from the middle of July to early September, he had an eight-start span in which he pitched to a 1.93 ERA and .218 opponent batting average.
The Yankees would love to see more of that from the youngster.
He’ll hope to take another step forward in 2022, but for now, he deserves to be proud of his 2021 campaign.
1. The Emergence Of Nestor Cortes Jr.
The Yankees seemingly have a rising star in Nestor Cortes Jr.
The 26-year-old’s MLB career got off to a rough start, and a lot of folks thought he had a low ceiling at the professional level.
But that narrative has gone out the window at this point.
The lefty posted a 2.90 ERA over 22 outings (14 starts) for the Yankees this season.
He also registered a 148 ERA+, 3.78 FIP, and 1.08 WHIP.
Of his 14 starts, he allowed three runs or fewer 13 times.
Nestor Cortes Jr.’s career high 11 strikeouts tonight 🔥 pic.twitter.com/RizXrcefJ1
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 16, 2021
There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to Cortes.
What a difference a year makes, huh?
This guy had a career ERA of 6.72 going into the 2021 campaign.
No one expected him to be much of a factor for the 2021 Yankees.
But now, the team will almost certainly include him in next year’s rotation plans.
It’s a cool story, especially considering Cortes was a 36th-round draft pick.
He’s proving a lot of people wrong.